Taylor Swift's 10th studio album dropped at midnight on October 21, with an extended track-list releasing at 3am on the same night, to nearly crash the Spotify platform. For a musician to carry that much sheer power in her music, to have that much anticipation in light of a release, shows her strength. And for her to speak so candidly, though interwoven in metaphors and poetic prose, about her own pitfalls, that shows her beauty.
A strong deviation from the tales of folklore and evermore, Taylor Swift returns to her 1989-esque synth pop sound for a collection of insightful, subdued first-person narratives of her most sleepless nights. Midnights is Swift's self-proclaimed confessional, featuring admissions of taking revenge and falling in love. Midnights is a collection of songs that drive a "journey through terrors and sweet dreams."
Long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff sets the tone for a formulaic synth-pop album reminiscent of Reputation and 1989, and while she's no longer crooning over light guitar and piano melodies, she retains the same vulnerability that makes her one of the most celebrated artists of this generation.
Swift's mind is as sharp as a tack in the late hours of the night, and she can pinpoint those exact emotions that keep you up in a way that's reflective of her storytelling and lyricism in early albums. "Anti-Hero" is a depiction of self-loathing, those moments of self-introspection that result in cut-and-dry hatreds of the body and the mind. "Maroon" details the early palability of falling in love, a song made for late nights on countertops and dreaming of what might have been.
Swift's talent at maintaining aesthetic cohesion and showcasing her newfound 32-year-old maturity rings clear on Midnights. While deemed "subdued" and not "radio-hittable" by reviewers, true fans understand her intentionality in the synth-pop, drum-driven bass hits of her new album, returning back to those early moments of critique that "Red" had too much experimentation or that "Reputation" was too far off from the norm. Instead, Swift finds herself firmly planted in the realm of modern electropop, reminiscent of Glass Animals and Billie Eilish, particularly evident on songs like "Vigilante Shit."
Collaborators like Aaron Dessner on extended tracks like "The Great War," "High Infidelity," and "Would've, Should've, Could've" sound eerily reminiscent of some of Swift's earlier works, but reflect the same sense of maturity and propriety that the rest of the album proper carries. Swift's musicality is increasingly noteworthy on tracks like "Snow On The Beach" featuring Lana Del Rey, who provides a sparse yet melodic backdrop to some of Swift's more prominent vocals.
The amount leadup to Taylor Swift's 10th studio album reflects just how powerful her name and music is. This is a woman who drove seamlessly from country to pop in 2014's 1989, a woman who slips from bitter hatred to romantic poise in between tracks on Red and Fearless. In Swift's Midnights, she is no longer vindictive like on Reputation, but isn't removed and isolated like on her quarantine-driven musical tales.
A delectable collection of retrospects, Midnights is the perfect 10th studio album. It's cyclical. It's mature retellings of every night and every theory and every boy her fans have connected her to, in a way that makes it feel rather perfect.
What keeps you up at night is the same thing that keeps Taylor Swift up at night too.