Midnights is an addictive lyrical masterpiece that ushers in a bold new era for Taylor Swift.
“It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me!”
That’s not just how I introduce myself in every conversation— it’s one of the most memorable lines from Midnights, the latest album Taylor Swift has blessed us with. Since it dropped last Friday, October 21st, Midnights has left Swifties screaming, crying, and throwing up in the very best way. (It doesn’t hurt that the 21st was my birthday, so thank you, T-Swift, for that thoughtful gift just for me!)
No true Swiftie will be surprised to see that this album has thirteen tracks (because of course it does!) but we’ve all been a bit surprised to discover that this album— arguably more than any of Swift’s others— is literally aural cocaine. There’s just something about this album that is viscerally addictive and I think that’s because it plays like a grown-up version of Speak Now.
For me personally, Speak Now (2010) was such a meaningful album because it came out during an era when my 14-year-old self was hopeful and vulnerable in equal parts. I needed the powerful encouragement of Mean, I leaned into the witty vitriol of Better Than Revenge, and I believed with all my heart in the happy-ever-after of Mine.
For 14-year-old me, Speak Now held the essence of hope, revenge, heartbreak, and love— everything I was feeling at the time. It was vulnerable, eloquent, and feminine, and those qualities gave it its power. So, I think I love Midnights partly because it’s lyrical proof that the girl who wrote Speak Now, the girl who experienced all of those feelings while she was also young and vulnerable, has grown up and written a sequel that reflects her own evolution and power.
The peppy bite of Better Than Revenge has become the feral power of Vigilante Shit. The enthusiastic promise of Mean has mellowed into the bittersweet reflection of You’re On Your Own, Kid. And Mine has given way to Snow on the Beach— a grown-up, ethereal celebration of the rare beauty of a love you can cherish for what it really is, rather than the fantasy of what you want that love to be.
These tracks, for me, set the tone for an album that evokes everything my fragile teenage heart loved about a young Taylor Swift while reminding me that we’ve both grown up and that Taylor is still here to embody the hazy joy and confusion that is my 20-something life.
But while these tracks establish the connection between the past and the present, others define the Midnights era that has now characterised my autumn. Lavender Haze strikes a modern Sylvia Plath vibe while harkening back to the Reputation era’s Dancing With Our Hands Tied. Lavender Haze’s line ‘I been under scrutiny; you handle it beautifully’ is a nod to Dancing’s observation ‘people started talking, putting us through our paces; I knew there was no one in the world who could take it.’
Amidst these delightful throwbacks to previous albums, there are also plenty of standout songs that bring their own power to a new era. Maroon and Mastermind offer something for everybody, whether you hate yourself, feel like a scheming Gothic heroine, or both. Bejeweled and Karma are your new favorite confidence anthems (and they’re perfect for when you’re pouring some of LUSH’s Good Karma into your bubble bath!)
In short, not one track on this album is bad and there’s literally something here for everyone, especially die-hard Swifties who have a treasured encyclopedic knowledge of every album that’s come before.
Now, if you need me, I’ll be lighting candles and grabbing some Good Karma— I’m in my Midnights era.
Midnights is out now via Republic Records, check out the video for the chart-topping Anti-Hero here: