Taylor Swift is no rookie to dramatizing a record release. Her tenth original album and first non-rerelease in almost two years meant excitement was high for “Midnights.” Precipitating the Oct. 21 release, Swift dropped the occasional clues, or “Easter eggs,” about the album before jumping into “Midnights Mayhem,” a series of announcements of track titles that debuted on her social media.
For those expecting a continuation of Swift’s indie-pop “Folklore” and “Evermore,” “Midnights” was a stark departure, aligning with the tones of “1989,” “Reputation,” and “Lover.” Swift experimented with background sounds and different drum bases. The track “Question…?” includes noises of a party cheering, while “Bigger than the Whole Sky” brings forward soft guitar riffs.
Yet unlike any other of Swift’s albums, “Midnights” lacks the cohesion that makes each record distinctly recognizable. Each song on “Midnights” could very well fit into a different niche era of Swift’s discography — “Anti-Hero” is reminiscent of “Lover,” “Vigilante S---” belongs on “Reputation” and “The Great War” could fit seamlessly on “Evermore.” As a whole, the album feels much more like a mashup of songs from the other musical worlds Swift has created.
Staples of her style are still present — the confidence, the drama, the luxury. There are references to New York and rosé in “Maroon,” and the slight chaos of Swift as a romantic partner shines through in “Mastermind.” In classic T. Swift fashion, pop culture references are ample. “And all the outfits were terrible / 2003, unbearable / Did you see the photos? / No, I didn't, but thanks, though” blasts through the first verse of “Paris.” There is a certain lightheartedness returning to her discography, not seen since “Lover.” “Midnights” doesn’t necessarily contain more shallow content, but it includes less complexity than her work in “Folklore” and “Evermore.” Must we be reminded of the striking line, “Sometimes it feels like everybody is a sexy baby?”
All in all, Swift produced an album meant for dancing, crying, singing in the shower — the usual variety her records bring, with a little less spice than many expected. Now, fans wait for another rerelease, or at the very least, a strangely complicated hint from Swift about her next big endeavor.