These days on the internet, the term theory refers to something between a rumor and a prayer: a wish so commonly expressed that it starts to seem true. And a very particular wish fueled all the theorizing about Taylor Swift’s tenth original studio album, Midnights. Fans who speculated that she was about to come out as pansexual, or make a Rumours-level masterpiece of soft rock, or finally manage to quiet down Kanye West for good all wanted the same thing: a breakthrough. Maybe Taylor Swift would be different from who she has long seemed to be. Maybe this clever and corny 32-year-old woman from Pennsylvania who likes cats and cozy sweaters could still do something radical. Maybe—please, please, please—she could free us from our own banality.

But Midnights is not different. It is normal. Aggressively normal, aggravatingly normal, and, in its way, excellently normal. She has found the cultural status quo, and it sounds like that Glass Animals song that was in everyone’s TikToks last summer. What’s distinct about her return to synth pop is just the flavors she stirs in: oozing bass, surmountable melancholia, and the same type of confession and awkwardness that appears 45 minutes into an office happy hour. Transcending expectations is its own expectation, and Midnights makes clear, with modest poignance, that Swift has burned out on her own hype.
Listeners did have good reason to think she’d level up this time. Before the coronavirus pandemic, she released two sprawling pop albums—Reputation in 2017 and Lover in 2019—tinged with extremity and experimentation, brilliance and cringe. The isolation of 2020 resulted in the hush of Folklore and Evermore, whose songs were like spells incanted in uneasy chords and time signatures. Last year, she expanded an old ballad, “All Too Well,” into a 10-minute saga that flickered with controlled fury. These tinglings of high-art ambition might, logically, have culminated in Midnights, whose ’70s-rock marketing visuals call to mind Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks.
Instead, Swift and producer-writer Jack Antonoff chose to polish—not push forward—an idea that has intrigued her ever since the 2014 hit “Blank Space”: post-Lorde pop modernism, a catchy meld of diarism and drum machines. Fans will thus experience déjà vu at Midnights’ fast, “Ring Around the Rosie”–style cadences. They’ll easily anticipate the minimal-into-maximal journey many of its arrangements take. The choice of moodily distorted vocals feels especially dated; putting humanoid whale moans in an album’s first moments, as Swift and Antonoff have done, is like opening an IPAs-and-bacon bar in 2022. Yet compositionally, Midnights is sleek and sturdy in a way that no previous album of hers is. You might have trouble telling its songs apart from one another, but you don’t need to skip any of them.

[Read More…]

By clicking submit, I authorize Fitness Journal Edu and its affiliated companies to: (1) use, sell, and share my information for marketing purposes, including cross-context behavioral advertising, as described in our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, (2) supplement the information that I provide with additional information lawfully obtained from other sources, like demographic data from public sources, interests inferred from web page views, or other data relevant to what might interest me, like past purchase or location data, (3) contact me or enable others to contact me by email with offers for goods and services from any category at the email address provided, and (4) retain my information while I am engaging with marketing messages that I receive and for a reasonable amount of time thereafter. I understand I can opt out at any time through an email that I receive, or by clicking here

© Copyrights 2024, Fitness Journal Edu. All Rights Reserved

Skip to content