Taylor swift captivates her fans with “Midnights”

Eva Philips, Staff writer

On Oct. 21, after two months of build-up and anticipation, the wait for Taylor Swift’s newest studio album ended with the release of “Midnights.” Fans who had been placing bets on which re-recorded album would come next were taken by surprise when Swift announced the upcoming, all-new album in August. But now that it’s here, the question remains: Does it live up to the hype?After my first listen, I would have said no. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan for as long as I can remember, and there are songs that I love from each of her eras.“Midnights” is different. It returns to the pop sound of “Reputation” and “Lover” but is overall mellower with extensive use of synths and insistent rhythms. Swift switches effortlessly between breathy notes at the top of her vocal register and her lower range.At first, I wasn’t sure about the album’s overall sound. But on the second playthrough, I found myself warming up to the change. “Lavender Haze” and “Maroon,” the first two tracks on the album, didn’t impress me on my first listen but caught my attention the second time around. “Maroon” is a tentative favorite of mine from the album. The chorus conjures rapid-fire images of a lost romance, bittersweet and regretful.The album has a broad emotional range, covering self-love, self-hate, and everything in between. “Anti-Hero” was characterized before its release as one of Swift’s most vulnerable songs. Swift contemplates her faults — narcissism, lack of confidence, immaturity — but a catchy tune, sharp delivery, and an upbeat rhythm make it instantly appealing.The album mellows with “Snow on the Beach,” which features Lana Del Rey. While its notion of the joys of unexpected romance is charming, it doesn’t stand out lyrically or sonically. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” follows a journey from insecurity to confidence. The song begins by describing the loneliness of yearning and pain of abandonment, but by its end, its title has transformed from a tragic warning to a reassurance that when we lose everyone else, we still can count on ourselves.“Midnight Rain” was another track that grew more appealing the more I listened to it. The muted synths and rhythm reminds me of “Reputation” tracks like “Dress.” “Question…?,” on the other hand, will likely be a skip for me. The tune seems disjointed, but I appreciate its concept of letting our curiosity get the best of us.“Vigilante Shit” evokes the revenge narrative of “Reputation” as Swift sings, “Don’t get sad, get even.” It’s hard to argue with that. “Bejeweled” is the most fun song on the album, counterbalancing the playful self-deprecation of “Anti-Hero” with Swift’s proud recognition that she can still dazzle a room.The final four tracks — “Labyrinth,” “Karma,” “Sweet Nothing,” and “Mastermind” — provide plenty of material for thought. On “Karma,” Swift delights in being on the ‘right side’ of her personal conflicts, while the closer “Mastermind” presents a vision of a manipulator convinced that she trapped her lover only to discover that he was aware of her tricks the whole time. The bright, intense sound of these songs contrasts with the much mellower “Labyrinth” and “Sweet Nothing.” “Labyrinth” relies too heavily on repetition and wispy vocals for my taste. “Sweet Nothing,” on the other hand, quickly became another favorite of mine. In it, Swift tenderly reflects on a relationship that offers an oasis of calm from the storm of the world outside, where both parties are free to be themselves. What more could anyone want?Out of the deluxe tracks, the standout is the emotional “Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve.” It may reference Swift’s relationship with John Mayer, about which she also penned “Dear John” over a decade ago. The song offers a tragic reflection on the loss of innocence from a toxic relationship.Overall, “Midnights” has lived up to the anticipation. Though her career began over fifteen years ago, Taylor Swift continues to deliver material that’s unexpected and fresh. “Midnights” is definitely worth the listen, and I’d recommend it to both fans and stans alike.“Midnights” can be streamed on all music-streaming services. Take some time to sit and listen to Taylor’s music as it is a breath of fresh air for the 2022 music scene and its all I’ve been listening to lately. And I hope that becomes the case for you too!