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Midnights Mayhem: An album review

Taylor Swift released her tenth studio album “Midnights” on Oct. 21, followed by seven additional tracks in “Midnights (3am Edition)” at the titular hour. 
Fans’ greatest criticism of the album is its lyricism. In comparison to her albums “folklore” and “evermore,” praised for their brilliant writing, lyrics like ”sexy baby” from ”Anti-Hero” fall short. Since this is Swift’s return to pop, fans expected a tonal shift to match the genre. But Swift seemed to take a different direction.
“Lavender Haze” opens the album with a unique sound, setting the tone of the next twelve tracks. This first track is a true car-ride jam. With fun vocals and an intricately crafted sound design, this techno-pop frustration with being pressured to marry young hits hard.
Swift furthers her commitment to the color red with “Maroon.” It continues the synth sounds of its predecessor, but features a much more mature and sultry sound from Swift. With her recent album re-recordings, Swift’s vocal growth has been a hot topic of discussion. This song truly showcases her new voice, one that is completely her own.
“Anti-Hero” is a favorite among the girls who tear up listening to “Nothing New.” The chorus of this song is one of the catchiest to come out this year. The music video highlights the themes of self-reflection, self-awareness and self-acceptance. The video’s visuals are reminiscent of indie horror-comedy films, with Swift directing it herself.
Fans were disappointed to learn Lana Del Ray did not have a verse in “Snow on the Beach.” However, Swift’s soft voice and the angelic sound evokes the imagery described in the title. Other than the awkward chorus, the lyrics make for a truly sweet love song.
“You’re on Your Own, Kid” is a stab to the heart following the high note of “Snow on the Beach.” Historically, Swift has put her most emotional songs at this spot in the listening order, and track five from “Midnights” lives up to the expectation. As if written to score a coming-of-age film, Swift talks her inner child through her first heartbreak, which seems to hit close to home among audiences.
“Midnight Rain” calls back to the unique sound of the album’s first track, as well as the themes of an unwanted marriage leading to a heartbreak. This time, though, Swift has the upper hand — another song that would be part of the perfect car-ride score.
“Question…?” somehow makes listeners want to dance around their room singing to the most heartbreaking themes of regret in love. The stream-of-consciousness writing sets it apart from the rest of the album, and most listeners can find some catharsis in finally asking these questions out loud, even if it is just while singing along.
In the same way “Midnight Rain” is an echo of “Lover,” track eight comes straight from the “reputation” era. With lyrics like “don’t get sad, get even” and Swift’s dark tone, it is impossible to listen to this song without getting angry about long-past grudges.
“Bejeweled” disguises sarcastic digs in a pop radio-hit sound. A theme of this album has been Swift standing up for herself. This song epitomizes that, allowing artist and audience to celebrate themselves, finally.
Another tonal shift comes with “Labyrinth,” a breathy break-up song without the anger of others in this album. Critics of the album’s lyricism will find no argument in track 10. However, the composition is not a standout, with heavy-handed distortion that makes it feel monotonous.
“Karma” is a true feel-good song. Nearing the end of what Swift describes as the narrative journey of the album, she really lets go in this song, and her relief is palpable.
“Sweet Nothing” is best received by those happily in love. For those that are not, it is the kind of love song that stings. No doubt drawing inspiration from Swift’s relationship with Joe Alwyn, the love described is the healthiest, most human in the album.
The last track, and a personal favorite, is “Mastermind.” A song for the “mirrorball” girls, the lyrics describe the developed skill of getting people to like you. The desperation paired with the dynamic shifts in the composition finish the album off on a beautiful, tragic note.

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