‘Midnights’ review: Taylor Swift returns to pop through the front door

In 2019, when Taylor Swift released Lover, the singer closed the album with a full declaration of intent framed within Daylight, her latest song: “I wanna be defined by the things that I love. Not the things I hate. Not the things that I’m afraid of, not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night”; Or what is the same: “I want to define myself by the things I love, not the things I hate. Not for the things that scare me, nor for the things that haunt me in the middle of the night“. Three years later, however, the one from Tennessee revolutionized social networks with the announcement of the arrival of Midnights after receiving the award for Best Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards; an album that, throughout thirteen songs, reviews thirteen sleepless nights in the life of the artist.

The hatred towards herself, the fantasy of revenge, the questioning of the decisions made and the trains that have been missed, falling in love or collapse are five of the themes that the soloist of great successes like Love Story or Blank Space advanced before the release of this album, which is already with us. And it is that Taylor does not deceive us, well this new project feels precisely like the other side of the Daylight coin, a Side B that cannot exist without Side A.

In Lover Taylor moved away from the darkness of Reputation to meet the light of day, to discover self-love after 20 years traveling in the middle of the night, to approach love from different points of view. Now, however, we are back at dawn and sleepless nights to attend one of her most personal projects, where there is room to open up with your fears and insecurities, to be vulnerable, but also for the beginning of a new illusion and love.

“Meet me at midnight”

Taylor Swift speaks precisely about love in Lavender Haze, the song with which the album opens and that best represents the musical variety that we find within the project: far from pianos, bowed string instruments and acoustic sounds that characterized Folfklore and Evermore, the singer says goodbye to Aaron Desneer in production and her cottagecore style to return to percussion, synthesizers, blown voice, falsettos and pop in capital lettersaccompanied (as in the last ten years) by Jack Antonoff, who co-writes eleven of the thirteen songs on Midnights and participates in the production of all of them.

In Lavender-Haze narrates the feeling of “being in a cloud” that accompanies the first months of falling in love, referring to the beginning of her relationship with Joe Alwyn and her desire to stay in that state as long as possible, regardless of the opinion of others. Maroon, for his part, slows down the tempo to make us witness the nights of complicity in which the notion of time is lost, of barefoot dances in New York, of the wine stains on the clothes and the memory of moments of intimacy that weeks later continue to leave us breathless. Of relationships that meant everything but of which there is nothing left.

With Anti-Hero, his main single, he presents a theme with great contrasts between sound and lyrics. Staying in synth pop, he uses an animated and ethereal melody as a basis to put before our eyes his insecurities served on a silver platter: giving us details about his moments of depression and dissociation from reality, his awakenings after nightmares, of his constant comparisons with the rest of the world and his fear of abandonment, of everything that happens when she is able to look at the sun but not directly at its reflection, ceasing to be the protagonist of her own life to give way to the antihero.

In Snow On The Beach, his long-awaited collaboration with King’s woolTaylor Swift briefly returns to a more alternative pop, where the hand of the New Yorker is noticeable, to offer us a ballad that revolves around the feeling of falling in love with one person at the same time that the other person feels exactly the samea magical sensation comparable to seeing snow fall on the beach.

midnight rain

The first seconds of Midnight Rain come totally by surprise: making use of autotune to establish a dialogue between herself and her conscience to talk about a relationship doomed from the beginning by the unfulfilled expectations and the insurmountable differences between the two. “He was the sunlight and I was the midnight rain, he wanted comfort and I wanted that pain” or “he wanted a girlfriend, I was building my own name” are some of the phrases that Taylor sings during her chorus, returning this boy who broke his heart only to his memory during sleepless nights, leaving between the lines the question of what would have happened if she had settled for the life he offered her.

About the paths not chosen and the mistakes made, Question also speaks…?, which closes the first half of the album narrating a relationship full of misunderstandings in which, when it ends, neither of them is the same again. Question…? gives way to Vigilante Shit, one of the darkest songs on Midnights that musically recalls songs like I Did Something Bad or Don’t Blame from his Reputation era to fantasize about revenge. A song where the artist shows in 90% of the song her voice completely naked, without frillswhich is rarely interrupted by the use of the autone to distort her voice, making us witness her pauses and her breaths.

In Labyrinth we return to the use of synthesizers to recreate a dreamlike environment and the autotune as a way of capturing the dialogue of thoughts (which bounce with the echo of the head) to attend a theme that introduces us to the feeling of loss and loneliness, moments in which it is necessary to breathe so as not to get lost and to discover also what at first seemed like an unbearable pain ends up dissolving with the appearance of a new illusion.

the final stretch

Karma and Sweet Nothing (a song in which he collaborates again with Joe Alwyn for its composition) are two of the songs on the last section of the album where we once again see a large dose of musical experimentation. On the one hand, Karma begins with the sound of what sounds like a radio with no signal, quickly transforming into a lively and upbeat song. where Taylor once again demonstrates her vocal range using large doses of falsetto and blown voice. For another, Sweet Nothing is reminiscent of Invisible String from the point of view of the warmth and sweetness that permeate the entire song.in which piano and voice take center stage to talk about everyday life and the dynamics established in their relationship, a refuge in which she feels completely safe.

Taylor Swift closes a completely round album with Mastermind, to whom she grants a privileged position: the 13. A song that reflects on love, destiny, the paths that cross and the existence (or not) of coincidences. “What if I told you that nothing that has happened has been accidental? What if I told you that I have a master mind and now you are mine?” the soloist wonders.

For those wondering about the familiarity of the sound of this track, many have been the fans who have baptized it as the “sister song” of Lorde’s Supercut minutes after the release of the album, which belongs to one of the most important albums of the past decade (Melodrama), where the New Zealander also worked hand in hand with Jack Antonoff. Both have once again shown that they form the perfect tandem to offer us Taylor’s return to pop with capital letters. She is past, present and future of music. We with this, of course, are going to be many nights without sleep.

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‘Midnights’ review: Taylor Swift returns to pop through the front door