National Music Reviews
Taylor Swift = Lorde + early Lana Del Rey
With her uber-successful career as a genre-hopping artist—from country to pop to alternative and back—it’s challenging to have any expectations for Taylor Swift’s music (especially in these last three years). Now, with her 10th studio album, Midnights, Swift returns to “pop,” but not in the way you’d imagine her to.
Midnights doesn’t match up to the caliber of her previous pop albums such as Speak Now, 1989 and the phenomenal Lover. Where 2020’s folklore and its later addition, evermore, were daring and exquisite—soaked in metaphors, evocative production and drowning in unprecedented lyricism—Midnights often pales in comparison and feels lackluster. The lyrics don’t make sense and often aren’t catchy.
The album itself isn’t cohesive in the way Swift’s previous work has been. Each of the songs on the regular version can be plucked and assigned to her past ones. “Maroon” could be a sampling from the poppier parts of Red or 1989. The track “Question…?” even uses a sample and classic beats from 1989; “Vigilante Shit” and “Karma” belong on “reputation.”
Maybe that all-over-the-place feeling is intentional, though. If these tracks are meant to be mini time capsules—capturing different sleepless midnights throughout her life and are pulled from “the vault”—it makes more sense. That’s not to say the album isn’t good, but for Swift’s 10th body of work, it feels like something is missing. There’s a sense of waiting for more.
Even with its odd aura, the album has shining moments. “Anti-Hero” is not only an immediate fan favorite, but it hints at the classic era of Swift. The opening lyrics and chorus are what her fans love her for: Music you can not only scream along with but, becomes relatable to everyone who listens to it. It has “False God” vibes to it, and more of what I pictured the album to sound like based on Midnights’ extensive marketing campaign.
Opening the album with “Lavender Haze” is bold, but also misleading. If the rest of the album had the vibe of that track, it would fit together better. This is what all of Midnights should’ve sounded like. Still, the three-track run of “Anti-Hero,” “Snow On The Beach” and “You’re On Your Own, Kid” is perfect. This up-and-down emotional rollercoaster is the high point of the album, especially when the tail end of the album drags on with unrememberable tracks, and the 3am bonus version has more duds.
The biggest thing to mourn, though, is the loss of the evocative, mesmerizing lyricism heard on folklore and evermore. Swift doesn’t need to prove herself as a great songwriter at this point, and perhaps this album is reflective of her moving out of her late 20s and into her 30s, where she has different life experiences—she’s no longer experiencing that era of angst that powered songs like “The Story Of Us.”
Midnights is reflective of a new Swift; it’s a love-as-you-listen album. The nostalgia factor is there for both the artist and diehard fans, but the general connectivity is not, aside from a few rare moments. Midnights is good enough, but, not the album you pick when you’re in the mood to listen to Taylor Swift. –Palak Jayswal