REVIEW: ‘Midnights’ proves to be Taylor Swift’s widely-welcomed return to her pop roots

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Photo courtesy of Republic Records

By Vianney Morales

Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album “Midnights” on Oct. 21. This is a special milestone for Swift, proving herself to be one of the very few pop artists who has had such longevity in her music career. The album is proving to be a hit, achieving Spotify’s record for most-streamed album within a single day in the service’s history.

“Midnights” was able to garner significant anticipation from Swift’s loyal fans in the months leading to its release, unlike her previous two albums that were released the day of announcement. That anticipation came with a lot of expectations that Swift didn’t quite meet.

The album is a mostly beautiful piece of work but isn’t what I had in mind with the visuals she released, including 70s inspired fashion and imagery. I’d describe it as a more mature continuation of the pop-perfection she accomplished with her beloved “1989” album. It’s drastically different from her ballad-centric “Folklore” and “Evermore” albums that were praised for Swift’s exceptional storytelling and ability to break out of her typical artistry.

I was able to mostly get past some of my unmet expectations for this album, but by far, the biggest disappointment was the lackluster collaboration with Lana Del Rey. Even as a casual fan of Del Rey, I still expected more of an impactful collaboration. Del Rey is a powerful artist and storyteller with a distinctive style but in the track “Snow on the Beach,” she merely provides backing vocals to a rather dry track. I felt like having two powerful female artists together on such an otherwise forgettable song was a waste of profound talent.

Despite this underwhelming song, the other tracks are quite enjoyable. Besides some cliches in the songwriting, the overall sound and beat of “Midnights” is Swift’s widely-welcomed return to her pop roots. Just as she describes, the album is a culmination of Swift’s personal sleepless nights.

It feels like she’s returning to the style she achieved with her “Reputation” and “Lover” albums. Swift seemingly embraces her struggles and deep-rooted insecurities in “Midnights,” making the album more relatable as a listener. I appreciate that the emphasis isn’t so much on the storytelling. Swift uses this album, in particular, as an outlet to describe how she feels in a self-deprecating but ultimately charming way.

Swift has been coming into her own these past few years and “Midnights” shows this. She has seemingly become more focused on putting out what she wants to write rather than what others want to hear. This vulnerability from her artistry makes the work more worthwhile.

Despite my personally unexpected reaction to the album, I think my surprise is a testament to Swift being a dynamic artist that doesn’t stick to just one sound that many music artists fall victim to. Even after I feel like she’s done all she can as a music artist, she continues to experiment with her music.

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