Swift and Antonoff deliver their strengths in “Midnights”

Ever since Taylor Swift announced her 10th album “Midnights” during MTV’s “Video Music Awards” back in August, fans and the general public alike have been anxiously awaiting the release.

Swift has been busy these last few years with the surprise releases of “folklore” and “evermore,” as well as the recordings of her first six albums, but that didn’t stop her from rolling out yet another brand-new album that steps back into the pop genre.

There isn’t a better person Swift could have created this collection of songs with than her longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff. Their past collaborations have ranged from slow and sultry to fast-paced and frenetic, but the common threads throughout have been synths and nostalgia. Seeing as Swift has continuously marketed the album as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights throughout my life,” it couldn’t have been more perfect.

“Midnights” has received some mixed reviews, however, and my opinion sits somewhere right in the middle. While the album as a whole is a solid pop album that Swift takes a risk on with the consistently moody and subdued tone and sound, it ends up blending together and becoming muddled by the end. Few of the songs are overly memorable or stand out by themselves.

The album also suffers a bit on the lyrical side, which tends to happen with Swift’s pop releases. While some of the songs on “Midnights” have stunning lyricism, others fall flat because of how basic they are. We all know that Swift can do better because we’ve witnessed her do it on previous albums. Some fans on social media have argued that this kind of critique is not valid because Swift should be allowed to have fun with her lyrics. While I agree with that sentiment, that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes her lyrics are surface-level or just plain cringe, which people are allowed to have negative opinions about.

The best example of this is “Vigilante Shit,” a song about revenge. While the production excels in creating a vengeful atmosphere, the lyrics, such as “Don’t get sad, get even,” try too hard to be dark and threatening, which causes them to come up short. The vibes that Swift exudes generally do not match this song’s menacing aura, which makes it come off as comical more than anything. For Swift to succeed with a song like this, she either has to dig deeper lyrically or remove herself from the song, like how she did with “no body, no crime” on “evermore.”

That isn’t to say that Swift’s lyrics must always be deep and poetic. Swift is known to sprinkle silliness in her lyrics occasionally, and she does it beautifully on “Karma.” The song is bright, fun and the closest the album gets to a generic pop song. While some of the lyrics, like “Karma is a cat / Purring in my lap ‘cause it loves me,” may have raised some eyebrows among listeners, the ridiculousness makes me giggle. Lines such as that are so classically and undeniably Swift.

Other stand-out tracks include “Maroon” and “Mastermind.” The former builds a haunting atmosphere through its deep synths and whining strings that complements the lyrics about mature and honest love. “Mastermind” weaves a story of social anxiety hidden beneath a confession to a lover about perfectly orchestrating the moves that cultivated the relationship. The layers of the song showcase Swift’s writing at its best.

While “Midnights” may not be Swift’s most impressive album, it does provide her with an easy transition back into pop that will only help her amid the swirling tour rumors. “Midnights” will fit nicely playing out of stadium speakers across the globe, backed by the rest of Swift’s iconic discography. I will be eagerly awaiting whatever Swift decides to surprise us with next, whether it be a tour, a rerecording or another brand-new album.


4/5 stars



Photo courtesy of Ralph PH, Wikipedia.