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The New Taylor Swift Album is… Good.

Like a little bit. Kinda.

by Max Miller

Staff Writer

art by Olive Polken


This review was supposed to be almost purely criticism. After reading all of the disappointed reviews and upset tweets, I expected the absolute worst coming in. Even Taylor Swift’s fans began to criticize her new project, Midnights. All the backlash was surprising to me; Swift has been regarded as one of the best songwriters of our generation for some time now.

Admittedly, I haven’t had Swift’s recent albums on consistent rotation. But, the last few projects have seen her take a jump in songwriting prowess. She has shifted genres a few times over her career, from country, to pop, to folk. It is this cutting-edge dynamism that has helped keep Swift’s music in popular favor. Swift has cultivated a bit of a Stan-filled cult following, named “Swifties,” through her “relatable” lyrics and generally resilient attitude. This cult is sizable, to say the least, and unfailingly loyal, defending their hypothetical leader whether the music justifies their energy or not.

The issue with this album is it lacks subtlety. Where other Swift albums use specificity to their advantage, this one’s generality glares. The lyrical content is painted by an almost comically broad brush. It feels as though they were intentionally made to apply to as many listeners as physically possible. Many have deemed it Instagram caption music, with its in-your-face, confident simplicity. At points, the lyrics are so bland the listener can’t help but cringe (“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” on “Mastermind”) and (“I don’t dress for women / I don’t dress for men / Lately, I’ve been dressing for revenge” on “Vigilante Shit”) and at others, they are simply strange (“Sometimes, I feel like everybody is a sexy baby / And I’m a monster on the hill” on “Anti-Hero”). Swift leans heavily on an idea of revenge against the world, a specific foe, or, at times, an unnamed lover.

When I first listened to this project, I found it tacky. I thought the lyrics were upsettingly flavorless. This was especially unfortunate given that the album was so well-produced. I was so disappointed. I let them ruin the entire listening experience for me. I was too stuck in my preconception.

As I continued to listen to the album, I began to grow more endeared to the catchy, deceivingly earworming melodies and dark, generally reverb-heavy production. At one point, I found myself humming the hook on “Bejeweled” for what was likely three hours straight. Soon after, I couldn’t get “Sweet Nothing,” which has become my favorite track of the album, out of my head, looping it over and over until every detail was burned into my brain.

The more I listened to Midnights, the more I realized that the album is not meant to be consumed in the same way that folklore and evermore were. Midnights isn’t for thinking about. When I first interacted with the project, I was simply walking around. Much of my first listening occurred while seated. It was when I stopped thinking and danced around my room that I truly enjoyed it. The words are corny. The themes of revenge are incredibly played out. But who cares? It is difficult to not think too hard when first listening to the project, especially with the expectations set on Taylor Swift to be lyrically superior to her peers. Something about the album’s vapidness scratches a certain guilty itch. In order to fully appreciate Midnights, you just have to shut your brain off, flail your arms, and forget your problems while you scream along to poorly written, confident lyrics about love and revenge.

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