‘Midnights’ By Taylor Swift: A Personal, Emotionally Potent Late-Night Check-In (Critic’s Take)


Midnights, Taylor Swift’s tenth studio album, was introduced to us as an exercise in restlessness. “This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night,” Swift announced the project in August, “a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” The floors we walk on and the demons we confront.”


This explanation for Midnights makes sense in light of its appearance. Swift did not need to release an album of original material this year, especially since she already has a mini-worth career’s of new material that she has yet to even play on tour, less than two years after the unexpected, two-pronged opus of Folklore and Evermore, and smack in the middle of her lengthy process of re-recording (and expanding) her first six studio albums.

Yet, like any late-night musing, these songs gnawed at her, begging to be expanded on rather than saved for another day. Midnights is full of the bleary-eyed doubts, private triumphs, out-of-the-box questions, and long-term musings that haunt us in the dark; Swift felt compelled to hoist hers into the light.


Swift uses Midnights to experiment with her sound in a variety of directions; gone are the guitars that helped define Folklore and Evermore, replaced by an emotionally revealing brand of pop that’s rhythmic, synth-driven, and guided more than ever by Swift’s razor-sharp lyricism. Midnights will be compared to Swift’s more eclectic full-lengths, such as 2017’s Reputation and 2019’s Lover, simply because it is more sonically amorphous than 1989’s mainstream pop or Folklore and Evermore’s indie-folk.

While this project resembles those albums in Swift’s tendency to colour outside the lines of its core aesthetic, Midnights is also more personal and focused, with a relatively short run time (13 tracks in 44 minutes), only one guest (Lana Del Rey, stopping by for the swirling sing-along “Snow on the Beach”), and a smaller studio team (Antonoff and Swift are the only producers listed on the album), yielding a collection of messages that sound delivered straight from Swif.


Detours are taken, and voices are warped; Swift glistens in natural beauty, and more f-bombs are thrown than ever before. Midnights can be a little sloppy, but that’s on purpose. Swift has embraced the complexities of her personality through her songwriting, demonstrating that she can be both the bitter partner declaring “By the way, I’m going out tonight!” on “Bejeweled” and the woman terrified of falling in love again (“You know how much I hate that everybody just expects me to bounce back / Just like that”) one song later on “Labyrinth.”

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