ALBUM REVIEW: Taylor Swift shares her darkest secrets on ‘Midnights’

Posted on 21 October 2022
By Caitlin Kirkwood
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From champagne problems to sprinkler splashes and fireplace ashes, Taylor Swift’s ‘Evermore’ era is adjusting her maroon scarf. Returning to her craft of revolutionary album releases, the singer-songwriter has glistened upon the horizon of nightfall with her latest record ‘Midnights’. Hosting 13 tracks, the record presents itself as a storybook of sleepless nights scattered throughout Swift’s life, painting pictures of her psyche; as it opens the intricate door into her mind, holding our hands as we walk through her personable concepts of love, revenge, hurt, and manifestation, the theme of restlessness in the wake of the night is highlighted all too well throughout the full length, a theme that represents the pinnacle of change and realisation in life.

Opening with ‘Lavender Haze’, a ‘50s-inspired track, Swift captures the safety experienced within her relationship while being under the spotlight. Though Swift is no stranger to receiving hate, that doesn’t make it any easier. Whilst being publicly shamed on social media in 2016, the year of the infamous Kayne West scandal that led to her one-year hiatus, the shining star notes the pressures of being in the public eye. “I been under scrutiny / You handle it beautifully / All this shit is new to me,” she recalls as the vulnerability of the lyrics are dressed up in a bopping, dreamy beat. “I find it dizzying / They’re bringing up my history / But you weren’t even listening.”

Transporting the haze of love to a deep self-loathing is something only Swift can seamlessly accomplish. As she returns to her diaristic style, addressing the central conflict within her life, the album’s lead single, ‘Anti-Hero’, directly faces her inner demons that keep her thoughts fleeting when the clock strikes twelve. The result is a strikingly aware track showcasing that even the biggest stars get self-conscious at times and even though she may joke about it from time to time, which is lyrically reflected in the bridge, she’s aware that owning such problems doesn’t adhere to making changes: “It’s me, hi / I’m the problem, it’s me / At teatime, everybody agrees / I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.”

Lyrically crafting the narrative to her independence, ‘Midnight Rain’, ‘Vigilante Shit’ and ‘Bejeweled’ are pinnacle anthems to the record. Distancing from sombre tones, the tracks address love, revenge and self-worth, all while paying homage to 2017’s ‘Reputation’. The upbeat ‘Midnight Rain’ embodies feminism at its peak as Swift sings about “making her own name,” whereas ‘Bejeweled’ and ‘Vigilante Shit’ continue walking us through different stages of a relationship, the latter being driven by heavy synths as Swift touches on seeking revenge on a lover. The dark and sinister manners of the rebellious track act as a character-building stepping stone amid the album and, as a whole, showcases Swift’s incredible lyrical strength.

Enchanted by deep voices, slow motion choruses and beating hearts embedded within, ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Sweet Nothing’ tell the tales of finding comfort in another, post-breakup, and the struggles that coincide. Putting her fame aside completely as she hesitantly enters a new relationship, ‘Labyrinth’ unfolds like its namesake, starting out with high-pitched thrills reminiscent of her previous works, as the production mirrors the breaking down of the walls the popstar unintentionally built, each synth quiver slightly cracking it.

In layering her most intricate thoughts and vulnerabilities on the table, Swift has created a masterpiece. ‘Midnights’ cruises between millennial expressions of disinterest in following specific life paths whilst examining the cost of fame, coming from someone who’s spent the majority of her life in the spotlight. By capturing such experiences on an honest level, Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated tenth record reveals a deeper life lesson, one of which exposes the lifelong process of figuring yourself out. It’s not as easy as it seems.

Taylor Swift’s 10th album ‘Midnights’ is out now.