ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT
Taylor Swift’s darker new ‘Midnights’ album breaks Spotify
(CNN) — Taylor Swift is endorsing late nights with her first original album in two years.
The 11-time Grammy Award winner unveiled her 10th studio album, “Midnights,” on Friday, following a surprise announcement at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
Swift, who is currently in the midst of revisiting her early albums in a bid to regain ownership of the work she released under her former label Big Machine Records, has pivoted from the folk-rock sound of 2020’s “Folklore” and “Evermore” to something more mainstream.
“Midnights is a collage of intensity, highs and lows and ebbs and flows,” she told fans on social media following the release. “Life can be dark, starry, cloudy, terrifying, electrifying, hot, cold, romantic or lonely. Just like Midnights. Which is out now.”
As “Swifties” rushed to Spotify to listen to the record at midnight, the streaming giant experienced overwhelming traffic and users reported outages worldwide.
But despite the initial tech issues, the 13-track album, almost entirely written, produced and performed with Swift’s long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff, is already a hit with fans.
“Can’t stop listening Midnights. This entire Album is amazing! You’re so genius, @taylorswift13!” one fan wrote on Twitter.
Another said: “Taylor Swift mothered so hard with Midnights no one will ever come close to her level of prodigiousness. This woman is not just a talented writer but also a clever musician. I never doubted her.”
Music critics were just as enthusiastic about the album, though some noted its subdued tone.
Awarding “Midnights” a five-star rating, the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis describes the sound as “pop rich with self-loathing and stereotype-smashing” and “misty, atmospheric and tastefully subdued.”
He adds that: “Midnights delivers her firmly from what she called the ‘folklorian woods’ of her last two albums back to electronic pop.”
Petridis also noted that Swift’s much talked about Lana Del Rey collaboration, “Snow on the Beach,” is “beautifully done — a perfect gene-splice between their two musical styles with a gorgeous melody — but it’s a long way from a grandstanding summit between two pop icons: there’s a striking lightness of touch about it, a restrained melding of their voices.”
According to Rolling Stone writer Brittany Spanos, Swift’s new album “picks up where the pure pop triptych of 1989, Reputation, and Lover left off, a dazzling bath of synths complementing lyrics caught between a love story and a revenge plot.”
For LA Times pop critic Mikael Wood, the song-writing and vocal performances in “Midnights” carry the album.
“She’s playing with cadence and emphasizing the grain of her voice like never before … eventually you stop caring what’s drawn directly from Swift’s real life and what’s not,” he writes.
Giving “Midnights” 8 out of 10, website Clash Music‘s Matthew Neale writes that the album “feels both voyeuristic in its exposition and brash in its execution.”
“Defined by dark nights of the soul and cast in the same bluish-purple hues, ‘Midnights’ offers little of revelatory purpose to those who have yet to succumb to Swift’s charms,” he explained. “For those already swayed by her craft, however, it may reasonably go on to be recognized as her best album to date.”
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