- Words Rachel Martin
- Photography Beth Garrabrant
Taylor Swift embraces the night in her newly released 10th studio album, ‘Midnights’.
Painting a dazzling and delicate picture with jewel toned hues, Taylor Swift embraces insomnia on her 10th studio album, ‘Midnights’. Swift describes the album as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered through her life” — songs that she wrote in the middle of the night, drunk on her own thoughts and a perfectly mixed cocktail.
If ‘Midnights’ were a cocktail, it would be prepared with equal parts nostalgia and youthful love, a dash of melodrama, and a bit of burn on the aftertaste.
Swift is notorious for assigning feelings a color (famously red or gold), and she opens the album with lavender on “Lavender Haze.” A phrase coined in the 50s that means ‘being in love,’ “Lavender Haze” sounds like the early stages of young romance and the trials she faced against outside persuasion, but ultimately coming to the conclusion that the only opinions that matter are her own and her lover’s.
A darker, more mature and experienced shade of Red, “Maroon” explores what it feels like to get lost in time with a love. “Carnations you had thought were roses / that’s us” Swift sings while divulging in the innocence of her relationship.
On “Anti-Hero,” Swift, for the first time ever in her music, speaks on her depression. “I should not be left up to my own devices, they come with prices” — the first official single off the album, the song tells the story behind her sleepless nights, writing the songs about the experiences preventing her brain from resting.
Swift has vocalized her love for Lana Del Rey’s songwriting for years, so the two coming together for “Snow On The Beach” is a long awaited collaboration. A cheeky ode to beautiful but unlikely happenstances, the track is the perfect blend of the two Grammy award-winning songwriter lyrical and musical stylings. Famous for penning the most vulnerable and personal track on each album for “track five,” Swift shares about her struggles with adolescent heartbreak — in life and in love — that followed her into adulthood on “You’re On Your Own, Kid.”
If ‘1989’ (Swift’s critically acclaimed debut pop album) were written after the life she experienced in her late 20s to early 30s, “Midnight Rain” could be a seamless transition track between ‘1989’ and ‘reputation’. A personal standout, instead of focusing on her Romeo and Juliet daydream she famously sang about at 20 years old, “Midnight Rain” weaves through the struggles Swift faced when splitting time between a relationship and focusing on herself and her career. “He wanted a bride / I was making my own name / chasing the fame.”
A track that fits right in with the vibe of ‘reputation’, “Vigilante Shit” could soundtrack Swift’s personal revenge film. “I don’t start shit but I can tell you how it ends,” she echoes on top of dark, synth fueled production that feels like “Look What You Made Me Do”’s darker, more vengeful older sister.
“When I walk in the room I still make the whole place shimmer,” Swift sings on the delightful pop track “Bejeweled.” Reminiscent of “The Archer,” “Labyrinth” delves into her constant struggle with anxiety when falling in love. Another highly anticipated track – “Karma” – was teased back in 2020 in Swift’s self-directed music video for “The Man.” Instead of taking the obvious approach using the word, “Karma” is an upbeat song about Swift’s personal, almost positive experience with karma. She ends the song with the line “karma is a relaxing thought,” alluding to her being totally fine despite what she’s been through.
On 2020’s folklore and evermore, Swift credited the mysterious William Bowery as a co-writer on a handful of the tracks – William Bowery was later confirmed to be Swift’s long-term boyfriend, Joe Alwin, who is credited on the song “Sweet Nothings.” The two have kept their relationship very private, and “Sweet Nothings” gives us a look into their enchanting romance in the form of a simple and sweet track over light-hearted piano.
To wrap the album up, we end with “Mastermind,” a song that heavily alludes to be about Swift’s personal love story with Alwyn. “You and I ended up in the same room at the same time / What if I told you none of it was accidental / and the night time that you saw me nothing was gonna stop me,” she states, suggesting love at first sight.
A bit of a departure from the melancholy sounds on her quarantine projects ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’, ‘Midnights’ continues Swift’s pop music domination. The album is a triumphant return – a collection of songs about honest and deep love, budding romance, facing and overcoming obstacles and tribulations. Although certain tracks can be compared to her past work, Midnights is something brand new, while still ultimately encapsulating all that Taylor Swift is known for – songwriting that leaves her listener feel comforted, understood, and content, in the most beautiful way.