Published Nov. 7, 2022
BY EMMA BROWN
Synthetic beats and filters combined with traditional pop sound create a blend of past and present music on Taylor Swift’s album, “Midnights (3am Edition).”
Swift returns to themes present in her previous LPs “1989” and “Lover” to create a sultry pop blend that combines dark lyrics with upbeat tempo. In songs like “Lavender Haze” and “Labyrinth,” the artist starts off her tracks with a soft falsetto tone, tempering the effect of the harsh synth beats backing up the song. “Lavender Haze” draws from the template of Swift’s earlier pop song “I Think He Knows,” combining repetition, belting and strong drum beats.
Yet the implementation of synth comes at a price. Tracks like “Paris” and “Glitch” are too artificial, with the magic of Swift’s vocals and lyricism lost in filters.
The artist references her techno-pop album “Reputation” with “Vigilante Shit” and “Karma,” both through style and theme. In “Vigilante Shit,” Swift uses a slow beat partnered with lyrics about revenge and female rage to create a song that crescendos at the bridge, culminating to create a dark, ominous sound. “Karma,” while far more upbeat than the previous song in terms of tone, uses similar themes of vengeance, discussing the power of people’s actions within the universe.
While the album primarily focuses on a neo-pop sound, Swift also incorporates themes from her previous folk albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” in songs like “Snow on the Beach (feat. Lana Del Ray),” “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” and “Bigger Than the Whole Sky.” The tracks utilize vocal layering to create an ethereal sound and acoustic guitar to enhance the emotions of the songs, which discuss themes of falling in love, being deceived and losing a relationship.
Though Swift’s previous two albums have worked to flex the artist’s storytelling muscle rather than narrating her own life, “Midnights” is a primarily autobiographical record, returning to her roots of writing songs about her own heartbreak and love. “Midnight Rain” and “High Infidelity” discuss the agony of toxic love, with the singer taking responsibility for her role in the demise of her relationships. While previous albums have painted the artist as the victim within breakups, Swift is continuously self-deprecating throughout her songs, referring to herself as narcissistic and “the problem” in “Anti-Hero.” In “Folklore,” the singer discusses addiction and depression through an outside lens while Swift immerses herself in the narrative in her latest album.
Because Swift’s album takes an entirely different production route, many fans were initially hesitant to give the record the Swiftie-stamp-of-approval. Yet after several listens “Midnights” reveals itself for what it is: an LP completely independent of the melancholy folk tones of “Folklore” and “Evermore” that successfully creates a blend of various genres and lyrical styles.