After releasing tons of folk(lorian) versions of her previous songs, Taylor Swift’s tenth album, Midnights is out.
Rolling Stone, NME, Pitchfork, and other music magazines all recognized the evolution of Taylor’s music and praised the album as an instant classic. Now, I found that title a tad exaggerated and I wanted to give my take on this highly anticipated musical effort.
In this article, I’ll first talk about the standard version of the album featuring 13 songs and then I’ll dig into the 3am Edition with 7 more tracks.
Not gonna lie: overall, it’s a great album. Reading that Taylor was going for “pure pop” again, I was expecting something like 1989 (I haven’t listened to Lover to make the same comparison). Like, mainstream electro-pop. There are traces of folklore in Midnights, which is great, but the pop element gives us something more. At least the artist didn’t release folklore 2.0 but moved on to the next thing.
“Lavender Haze” is a catchy and bubbly track to start the album; it also introduces the promotional tagline of the album, “meet me at midnight.” I might sound boring but “Anti-Hero” was one of my favorites as well: I love how her voice goes down towards the end of some lines, giving depth to her performance (when she sings, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror / It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero”). “Karma” is also among my favorites and it features some of the most clever metaphors in the whole album: “Karma’s on your scent like a bounty hunter / Karma’s gonna track you down / Step by step from town to town,” just to mention one.
Taylor’s lyrics are poetic, intimate, and honest as if she’s talking to a close one. Thanks to her storytelling, she manages to keep her audience engaged from start to finish (when the production is good too, of course). If I’m not mistaken, the artist herself said that Midnights is supposed to be a concept album, which each track representing one chapter of a longer story.
The project has a minimalist quality to it, sometimes even giving me strong Lorde vibes. Yes, that Lorde. I’m talking about tracks like “Vigilante Shit,” whose mysterious feel reminds me of “Royals,” “Midnight Rain,” which starts almost identically to “Sober,” and “Question…?” which somehow resembles Lorde’s singing style. That might be just me, but as a pre-Solar-Power-Lorde fan, I sometimes felt like I was legitimately listening to one of her songs. Besides this, I like these tracks.
Now let’s talk about the not-so-great aspects of Midnights. Jack Antonoff’s production delivers what it’s supposed to deliver, as usual, but there as some very awkward choices that I don’t understand. Lana’s so-called feature in “Snow On The Beach” is a total joke so I’ll skip that for now (why, Jack, why?! Why do her dirty like that?). “You’re On Your Own, Kid” is the most folklorian track of the album with the exception of the beat and electric guitar. “Sweet Nothing” is just alright, nothing special really. The most disappointing songs are definitely “Maroon,” “Labyrinth” and “Mastermind”, which have very bland, very monotonous instrumentals that make them feel boring and pointless.
Midnights (3am Edition)
Did the addition of 7 more tracks help Midnights become an instant classic? Let’s find out.
The 3am Edition starts pretty strong with three killer tracks that balance sugary pop with great songwriting, sometimes even reminding me of folklore: “The Great War” has the same punch as “The Great American Dynasty,” “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” is a hushed romantic anthem, and “Paris” is more of a 1989 song that would make an entire stadium sing along.
The songs that follow, however, aren’t as exciting: “High Infidelity,” “Glitch” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” are all pretty bland. “Dear Reader” redeems the ending of the album by addressing us, the listeners, as readers, showing the literary inspirations behind Taylor’s lyrics (also proven by the concept of the anti-hero which we saw in the first portion of the project).
Let’s now answer the question I asked at the beginning: is Midnights an instant classic? Well, no, or at least, it doesn’t feel like that to me.
An instant classic, to me, is an album that does something that no other album does. Midnights is a catchy, well-written album, sure. Its packaging is very appealing without any shred of doubt. But it’s not breaking boundaries. It’s not giving us something we’ve never heard before or hardly ever hear in mainstream music nowadays. It’s simply an enjoyable album to play on repeat until the next one comes out. It is, nevertheless, a very well-written album that deserves recognition and will probably get it (I bet Taylor will be the most prized artist at next year’s Grammys as she usually is).
(On a side note, I stand by the fact that everything that Taylor Swift does is overhyped and overly publicized. Though Midnights is a very good effort, there are many more that deserve the attention of the mainstream public but are instead sitting in the shadow of massive, million-dollar projects that will inevitably get all the praise. Let’s be mindful of that as we sing “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me.” Maybe Taylor is right and we are the problem.)
Have you been binge-listening to Midnights on repeat? What are your favorite songs? Let me know in the comments below!
Cover image credits: @taylorswift / Instagram