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Review | ‘Midnights’ functions as the testamentary culmination of Taylor Swift’s career

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Taylor Swift is one of the most renowned artists on the contemporary music scene – and one of the most prolific too. Since 2020, for example, she has released the acclaimed ‘folklore’ album, which earned her her third Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the impeccable ‘evermore’ and two re-recordings of old productions, ‘ Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ (all winners from audiences and critics worldwide). Now Swift is returning to the music world with another compilation of originals known as ‘Midnights’, whose nostalgia is not limited to visual aesthetics, but also massive publicity which included the announcement of each of the tracks in a special called Midnights Mayhew with Me.

The singer-songwriter has always had a very sharp marketing mind – and it’s reflected in the composition and architecture of every album she releases. Here, the main idea behind the 13 unreleased tracks is to delve into the intimacy of the sleepless nights Swift had, which even served as a cathartic and creative climax, as she has commented in promotional posts. In the end, between highs and lows, the result is what one would expect from a foray into Taylor’s incredible discography, enshrining himself as the testamentary culmination of all the experiences he has gone through in his life.

In ‘Midnights’, the barrier between image and sound is diluted like never before within Swift’s productions: the seventies vision does not only appear in the publicity photos, but in the construction of the songs, adopting a character voluntarily anachronistic to the time and the succession of events and creating a unique universe that encompasses the other eras of the artist. We have a reshaping of glam-rock and art rock, combined with the terminological removal of dream-pop, pop-rock and new wave: this means that the main element that comes urgently into songs is a powerful and dissonant synthesizer that serves as a fulcrum for the narratives to converge on a common path – which is to explore the intimate and spontaneous feelings, of a kind of impostor syndrome in the sense of to be in love.

The work doesn’t have the best of starts, so to speak, but it’s done smart enough not to spoil the surprise of the following tracks: “Lavender Haze” aims for minimalism, mainly because it gives space for that Swift’s interpretation takes shape, but the repetitive progression leaves something to be desired, while the layering of vocal pads seems at odds with the rest. Plus, the instrumental structure and cadence of the verses seem to pay homage to other artists who have done it before – like Lana Del Rey, who features in one of the tracks, Selena Gomez, and recent debutante Olivia Rodrigo. There’s not much to say about the songwriting: Taylor has always been an unrivaled lyrical force (“I got vetted, you handled it beautifully” is one of the many entries that catch our attention).

In the first half, we have clapping poetic inflections that are set up as some of the best of the performer’s career. ‘Maroon’, unlike the previous track, dives into tonal repetition in an evocative way, taking us back to ‘1989’ and ‘Lover’ (especially the track ‘The Archer’, which screams synth-dream with all its might) and guided by a kind of color theory which dialogues with the sensations and with the reality perceived by the singer; “Anti-Hero”, a pleasant surprise from the album, starts from a similar configuration without losing an interesting idiosyncrasy (the deep alliteration) and serves as a confessional discourse of self-sabotage, marked by “it’s me. .. I… I am the problem, I am me”. Both songs are crisp, engaging and resonant, engaging with anyone who has ever experienced any of the situations described above.

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There are other iterations that deserve listeners’ attention that go along with the above. ” Question… ? even though it recycles progressions from the same and previous albums, it uses a lot of nostalgia that starts right in the chorus, with the lines “Can I ask you a question?” Have you ever been kissed in a crowd? And all your friends made fun of you? imbued with impassioned and explosive rhetoric; “Vigilant Shit,” arguably the most original track, pulls aspects of “Reputation” into measured electro-synth and a chilling tale of revenge (“I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress not for men; lately seen for revenge”), drawing similarities to “Look What You Made Me Do” and erasing it with Charli XCX pulses.

There’s no shortage of cohesion on ‘Midnights’ – and, juxtaposed with the songwriting, it’s the album’s greatest achievement. However, mention should be made of the slip-ups committed by Taylor and his longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff, who was also responsible for production. Everything we hear here adds nothing new to Swift’s discography, perhaps representing an emulation of what she’s already delivered. Besides the repetitions mentioned in the paragraphs above, the problems extend to the theme, which is not far from conventionalism, although it is described with mastery; “Snow On The Beach” squanders one of today’s greatest talents, putting Del Rey in distant verses that don’t represent his abilities; “Midnight Rain” begins with an unnecessary auto-tuning that functions as a backing track for the next song; and “Sweet Nothing” sounds like an abandoned “evermore” song.

I can’t take credit for the unexpected references that appear on the album though. Rock art, even if not analyzed in its entirety, is the result of emulations that come from acts such as the Triumvirate and Wallenstein, whether in the manufacture of vibrant notes, or in the amalgamation between synthesizer, guitar, bass and drums; conceptual universalization allows Swift to stay true to what she’s been doing since her debut on the phonographic scene – which is winning over audiences for what she does best: tangle things that are common to all of us.

‘Midnights’ is a good track and works for the most part, although it lacks the freshness of previous tracks. Ultimately, the production functions as a testamentary culmination of what Swift was, is, and will continue to be decades after she passed away – a brief time travel and lifelong impact that, in fact, n don’t think twice about it. you please.

Note per track:

1. Lavender mist – 2.5/5
2. Brown – 5/5
3. Anti-Hero – 5/5
4. Snow on the beach, feat. Lana Del Rey – 2/5
5. You’re all alone, kid – 4/5
6. Midnight Rain – 3/5
7. Question…? – 4.5/5
8. Vigilante shit – 5/5
9. Adorned with jewels – 3/5
10. Labyrinth – 3/5
11. Karma- 4/5
12. Nothing sweet – 3/5
13. Brain – 4.5/5

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