By Rohail Spear || Managing Editor
After two critically acclaimed alternative albums, Taylor returns to pop with Midnights, an album about love, revenge, and her darkest, deepest insecurities. The album’s theme revolves around midnight, that time of the night where we can’t help but wonder.
Midnights’ opening track, “Lavender Haze,” is a catchy pop song dedicated to blocking out the external critics of your relationships and instead losing yourself in a lavender haze of love. Taylor brings up constant speculation of whether she’s engaged to her current boyfriend, Joe Alywn, and dismisses it as “1950’s shit they want from me.” Instead, she swoons with her airy falsettos about staying in that lavender haze. “Snow On The Beach” is similarly about the cataclysmic realization that two people love each other at the same time. With the plucked instrumentals, sleigh bell in the background, and dreamy, faded vocals, it sounds like it should be played on Christmas Eve. While it is disappointing and somewhat confusing why the song’s feature, Lana Del Rey, does not sing even a verse, the song has a magical quality to it that reminds you of a winter’s evening.
“Maroon” is that classic Taylor Swift song where the chorus keeps on going when any other artist would have cut it short. The buzzing, warm synth in the background creates a sense of intimacy, the delicacy of a relationship beginning, and the potential loss of it. Taylor sings about her nights in New York, “waking up with your memory all over me” and “standing hollow-eyed in the hallway.” “Maroon” is about the infatuation one feels in a new relationship, coupled with the ever present fear that it won’t last.
Bops such as “Karma” have you smiling over the lyrics. A long song to karma, Taylor claims that “karma is my boyfriend,” a “cat purring on my lap, cause it loves me,” and sings about how comforting it is to think about how karma is “on your scent like a bounty hunter.” Karma is reminiscent of tracks on 1989 and especially reputation in it’s bouncy, carefree catchiness. Perhaps the most interesting lyric on the album is on “Anti-Hero”: “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby / And I’m a monster on the hill / Too big to hang out.” Okay, Taylor.
Midnights sounds different enough to be a separate album, but similar enough that you know that this is the same artist who wrote reputation and Lover. “Midnight Rain” and “Labyrinth” use processed, masculine vocals that catch your ear and somehow work. Producer Jack Antonoff plays with woozy synths on “Midnight Rain” and a horn on “Labyrinth” that sounds like an elephant trumpeting. “Vigilante Shit” especially sounds different than any other Taylor Swift song you’ve heard. Reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” the song’s bass and high hat play off of each other and create a vibey, dark, sensual mood. The vocal harmonies are expertly placed; odd synthesized sounds attack the song at random times.
In “Sweet Nothing,” written by Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn, an electric piano underlies a beautiful lullaby about finding safety and comfort in someone amidst everything else: while “the end is comin’”, they’re “in the kitchen humming.” In the final track, “Mastermind,” Taylor admits that she’s been scheming on how to get her lover to love her the whole time. Nothing that Taylor does is by accident, “and now you’re mine.” It’s a sad, clever self-aware track of how the public perceive Taylor and how Taylor perceives herself.
Deemed an “instant classic” by Rolling Stones, Midnights is an excellent shift from the melancholy folk songs of folklore and evermore. Taylor Swift returns to pop and some of her favorite topics – love, revenge, and self-loathing – in an album written in dark, quiet nights.
Junior Rohail Spear is the Managing Editor. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.