Taylor Swift’s new album has been met with rave reviews from critics, although some said its subdued tone means it lacks potential hit singles.
Midnights, the singer’s 10th original studio album, was award five stars by the Guardian and the Independent.
The Guardian said Midnights is a “cool, collect and mature” record “packed with fantastic songs.”
But some criticized the lack of radio hits, with the Evening Standard noting there is “not a smash hit in sight.”
Swift is currently re-recording her early records due to a dispute with music mogul Scooter Braun but has paused that process to release a new album of original material.
Midnights is the 32-year-old’s first original album in two years and sees her return to a more mainstream sound than the more muted, acoustic tone of her previous two albums.
Swift’s new record retains some of the folksy charms of sister albums Folklore and Evermore, released in 2020 during the pandemic. But it also sees her re-engage her pop sensibilities with lyrics that explore more personal subject matters.
She described the album as “stories of 13 sleepless nights, scattered throughout my life”.
Awarding the album five stars, the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis said Midnights “delivers her firmly from what she called the ‘folkloric woods’ of her last two albums back to electronic pop.”
“There are filtered synth tones, swoops of dubstep-influence bass, trap and house-inspired beats and effects that warp her voice to the point of androgyny,” he noted.
“Confidence is the thing that binds Midnights together. There’s sure-footedness about Swift’s songwriting, filled with subtle, brilliant touches.”
However, the Evening Standard’s David Smyth was significantly less enthusiastic, awarding the album just two stars.
“It’s hard to spot anything that sounds like a smash hit on Swift’s third muted collection in a row,” he wrote.
“While the style changes from Folklore and Evermore, Swift is never at the ball when the clock strikes 12. On the twinkly Bejeweled, she announces that she’s “going out tonight,” but the beats remain sleepy and sluggish.
“The brighter Karma, presumably another dig at Braun, is the only song that feels like it could be a highlight when she eventually returns to the stage. Otherwise, Midnight sounds ready for bed.”
But Rolling Stone’s Brittany Spanos argued that a subtle return to form has resulted in an improved quality of songwriting from the star.
“As Swift has returned to her archive to undertake the project of re-recording her previous albums, it’s clear slipping back into her past self has unlocked something brilliant and fresh in her songwriting,” she wrote.
“Midnights may surprise the most newly turned fans of her music, those who only learned to like her songwriting when it came in the traditionally respectable Folklore/Evermore package.”
Swift is currently gearing up for a busy few months. She hopes to be nominate for an Oscar in January for her short film All Too Well or in the best original song category for her track Carolina, take from Where The Crawdads Sing.
But Midnights will be her main focus for the next few months, with fans anticipating the announcement of a world tour in support of its release.
“Sometimes, as on Labyrinth, the modish vocal treatments are off-putting, but in the main, Midnights appeals because, for all its modern touches, it is essentially an old-fashioned singer-songwriter album about human weakness.”
NME’s Hannah Mylrea agreed Midnights is an album worthy of four stars.
She said, “After a foray into a different sonic world, she still shimmers on Swift’s return to pure pop.”
“She spins these new stories through sleek synth-pop, in common with [previous albums] 1989 or Lover, but the razor-sharp production of these albums is more subtle this time around.”
The Telegraph’s Neil McCormick praised the album’s “sensuous electro-digital sound” in his four-star review for the Telegraph and highlighted the lack of radio hits.
“Yet despite the Prince-like falsetto funkiness of opening love song Lavender Haze and glib strut of Bejeweled (“When I walk in a room, I can still make the whole place shimmer”), there are no obvious chart-smashing bangers.
“It is almost as if she has become too mature for the meme-friendly, earworm pop brand with which she made her name.”