Despre breathemein

Bucharest, 28, looking.

Revisiting Midnights A Year Later

A pop classic by now, Taylor Swift’s Midnights is a sultry experiment that forces you to face your darkest, deeper emotional demons.

When it came out in 2022, I remember I was on a day trip with my favourite person in the whole wide world, visiting one of his friends before he embarked on a journey to the end of the world. I was grateful to be able to listen to Midnights on our way there, and explore the sounds in our really old Honda CR-V.

I remember feeling upset because it didn’t sound like the 70s promised by the promotional pictures, and it seemed more reflective and introspective than I thought. Everything seemed tainted with salty tears and fears of being found out, which is a very odd combination.

Kicking off with Lavender Haze, with its very deep sounds from behind the haze indeed, Taylor seems to imply she’s content with what she wants, and not think of marriage or limiting beliefs. But somehow her voice seems to ache for the validation that comes from solidifying a connection in the most tangible way… there’s a deeper need than being wifed up, she sounds like she’s asking to be acknowledged.

Maroon was my personal favourite for the longest of time, and Swift’s deeper rich tone with the melody anchored in the drums makes this an otherworldly experience. The longing, the reminiscence of someone who got away, the whispered wishes, the intensity of the chorus, the ghost of that someone lingering in between words… I remember listening to it and feeling like I’m regretting someone, even though I’m not missing anyone, and feeling bad, almost ashamed for looking back into someone’s life and feeling their feelings. Taylor’s enunciation makes my blood boil, and I can see the needle spinning on a vinyl.

Anti-Hero is the designated lead single, and while it is a perfect single, it pales in comparison with other songs. It rehashes the old narrative that Swift is the underdog and is a bit tiresome to witness it. While it’s dressed as a way to self deprecate and show self awareness, I think it lacks precisely that, and sadly it doesn’t stand the test of time. Yes, Swift can write a hook like no one else, but this is one of her weakest ones, even though it was meant as an update copy of Blank Space.

Snow On The Beach, in all its iterations, makes me wide eyed and curious for sweet nothings and just happy to be here. I prefer the original, with Lana del Rey harmonising with Swift, and the sounds flow like warm honey, and I want to wear mittens and a fluffy hat in the crisp morning air… just lovely.

The coveted track 5, You’re On Your Own, Kid, it’s another brand of mirrorball and this is me trying. I must say I prefer the other two songs about trying too much and never being enough, trying to mirror others and never getting it right. I think the lament specific to the subject matter is what makes this track 5 a bit more in your face and lacks subtlety.

There’s very few songs of Taylor with her squeaky clean image that could make you think that she’s a sexy vicious mastermind, but Midnight Rain is one of them. Few things are so intense in this world like knowing you want something different, you’re different from everyone, and you just NEED to explore the darkness in you. Midnight Rain achieves ruin perfectly, along with taking accountability and embracing the temptation. If champagne problems evolved into something, it was midnight rain.

Long speculated to be about Harry Styles, Question…? is intense lyrically, but the sound is too repetitive and stale to matter. I do like how Swift says “oh” with resignation and sultry…

I can see the appeal of Vigilante Shit. As an artist long plagued with questions about their own personal brand of feminism, Swifts allegiance with scorned women is more prevalent on later albums, and vigilante shit is the way she achieved it this time. I would say it’s a bit too performative for my liking, but I appreciate the intention and not the execution. It’s always a skip, despite its huge popularity with the fans.

Bejeweled was my first favourite song off the album, back in 2022 when Midnights was released. There was a familiarity to it, and after several listens, I could tell it’s because of a chord progression similar to The Knife’s Heartbeats, which is one of my favourite songs ever. Obviously, it’s not a note for note reproduction, maybe a simple coincidence, but the song is still a earworm, a year later. Something about the timing, the assertiveness of the lyrics, the focus on allowing oneself to shine despite feeling so dull in a relationship just makes it perfect. And like everyone else, I am obsessed with how Taylor Swift says „shimmer”.

Labyrinth is another one of those songs that verges on the edge of being great. The breathy vocals are the best thing about it, but also it’s somehow instantly forgettable, relatable and iconic at the same time. I never liked it or added it to my Spotify playlist, but then when I give it a chance, I am entranced.

Karma, in all it’s iterations, is just a song that I avoid at all costs. Nothing is being gained with the Ice Spice remix, and nothing is actually being said with the standard version either. Another rehash of Swift trying to pose as a peaceful, patient, underdog waiting for other forces to avenge her. After lifelong accusations of being cunning, intentional, ruthless, she might as well lean into that persona, instead of trying to pose as this innocent bystander and witness of everyone else’s downfall. And lyrically, Swift effectively hammers it down with such lack of grace and subtlety, in a way that feels forced and disingenuous.

Sweet Nothing was a shock was I saw it on the track list, since one of her exes has a similarly named song. But Calvin Harris’ version couldn’t be further away from this tiny sounding love song. It almost sounds like a nursery rhyme, pointing out at intimacy, comfort, and lack of judgement. If I could hold a song in the palm of my hand, and cherish it forever, it would be this song. It makes me feel like I’m walking on a side street in Amsterdam, at sunset, and observe a kitchen scene with two people in love. Everything is soft, sweet, and safe. I won’t judge the relationship that inspired the song, I’ll just let myself love it.

I feel like Swift achieved what she wanted to do with Labyrinth in Mastermind. It is its more polished cousin, and a confession of Taylor’s penchant for being analytical and intentional about her conquest, and it’s still missing something. It still doesn’t feel genuine, but maybe the people pleasing element is to blame.

This would be the album closer, but since I prefer the 3am edition of the album, I think it’s worth discussing the other 7 tracks, even briefly. Like most fans, I prefer these 7 tracks, as they’re honest and raw, and a lot more confessional and subtle than the big pop of the standard edition.

The Great War employs Taylor’s preferred method to describe a fight. She seems infatuated with the metaphor of a relationship breakdown being akin to a war, and she does this superbly. This is by far one of my favourite songs off the album.

Bigger Than The Whole Sky sits in a place reserved for False God. I don’t see the metaphors other fans see, and I always skip it. Something about it so fake deep, it feels like I’m listening to Taylor Swift pretend to be someone else.

Paris, on the other hand, is such a fun little gem. I can’t get enough of it, it’s so cheesy and playful, and instantly makes me want to go on a holiday.

High Infidelity is a revelation. Swift is taking accountability for overlapping lovers, and it’s refreshing to see that. Sonically, the song drags you in and holds you hostage, in a way that rewires my brain so intensely…

I never know what to say about Glitch. It has somewhat of a cult following, but then again swifties are all a bit of a cult. The sound is again sultry, but it feels unfinished. Swift does magical things with her voice, the way she enunciates „glitch” is sweaty, hazy, mesmerising.

The masterpiece of the album is undoubtedly Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve, and I’m sure no one will argue otherwise. Looking back at a very damaging relationship (with fuckboy central John Mayer), the song doesn’t have the wistfulness or hope of other songs, nor the anger and heartbreak conveyed in other. This song is therapy in action, holding a mirror to a lot of children and teenagers preyed upon by adults, that have now enough understanding and strength to understand what was lost. It’s a song about mourning who you were and who you could’ve been, before growing into that person. The lyrics are scathing and harsh, and well deserved. And the best part of it is that as you go deeper into the song, is sounds like a confessional where all the emotions come overwhelming you, and you have to let it all out, and experience everything you bottled up all at once. The way Swift sings the words, almost like she never has time to finish them, gives me a very intense imagery of a dam bursting and all the emotions pent up are just being released. Lyrically, it’s so hard to top this with anything, but I have no doubt Swift will try to out do herself, she always does.

Dear Reader is the perfect unofficial closer. Such a soft gem, cut from the same cloth as You’re On Your Own, Kid, but perfectly executed. I would’ve preferred this as the track 5, instead of what we got, but I do not make decisions, am I?

This album is intense at times, with contrasting melodies and lyrics, but the choices in what ended up on the standard album make it sound unfinished most of the times. It feels a bit unfair having to dig through CDs and vinyls to get the full picture, to get Hits Different, more Lana Del Rey, and You’re Losing Me, but at the end of the day, Midnights achieves what it sets out to – showing us snapshots of Swift’s sleepless nights, plagues with memories, wishful thinking, rebellion, secrecy, and maturity.

Sticky Floors

Childhood dreams of summer, it’s the 2008-2009 time I always revisit when I get nostalgic. With Kings of Leon and Caleb’s raspy voice, and The Killers and their impatience blasted all over my soul, it was an unpredictable summer of emotion, devoid of fear, and full of expectation.

To be so young, when the internet is still in its early stages, when we were using instant messengers only when we were at home, to send our friends songs that we liked, between that awkward stage of MySpace and everything else instant, all I can think of is summer.

I can taste the dust in my city, and I can ignore my growth as a person, just for one summer. I’ll go to work, and maybe ignore my tasks, and plan a trip to the beach with my friends. And then go out for drinks and walk, and I’ll have still that silly MP3 player, and listen to music that makes me hope, but never makes me stand still.

I remember rain from ages ago, how tasted like, and how it melted my soul, I felt alone, and brave, and curious at once. Meeting on rooftops with my friends, dissecting books, and music, and taking pictures, and nothing felt out of reach.

Some of the most bizarre experiences, and yet some of the most heartwarming ones happened in that era. After the violence of leaving the nest, after the shock of not fitting in, and suddenly finding a tribe welcoming for me.

With sticky floors, hopeful eyes, and scared souls, I have embraced the dawn. And here I still am, 15 years later, still dreaming of the person I eventually become.

big rooms

keep your eyes wide, stranger,
and look for the biggest rooms,
because there’s no danger,
no gloom, and no doom,
to be less than the space,
the lesson you learn.
now wonder with grace,
at every turn,
and find a new meaning
to new days and dawns.
this is not just day dreaming,
it’s building new homes,
building foundations
out of temptations.

keep your eyes wide
on the biggest room yet.
take learning in stride,
while nothing’s a threat.

Last

Last step you’ve known this year,
and with that, dear,
I promise to hold near
the promises I made and never kept,
because what’s better than intent?

Last time you can commit to things
before you lose them to noncommittal sins,
and if you tell me you’ll work out and diet,
I’ll pretend you are believed
and I’ll be quiet.

Last moment before you dip into the unknown,
new year, new you, new, fresh abandon.
You’d like to think this time around you’ll be better
at keeping your word and following through
with promises at midnight. However…

Clock strikes at midnight,
seconds of excitement and pain
incite fright
and dull the brain.

The Split Love

Of bigger cities
With empty office spaces,
With the split love of hills and music and sunshine,
Unreasonably sad web of lies
When you say goodbye to one
And you’re glad you found the other one.
A trickling feeling
Of broken smiles
Cleaning your desk
Your empty desk in this small town
Is no small ask.
It’s like you care only about yourself
In the big city and in the big village as well.
Nothing is in moderation,
And everything is in consternation
As if you’re still finding and following
Footsteps that were never walked.
Your mouth is easy to speak to, but your ears are so hard to be talked
Too.
Imagine as we cloud the sunsets,
Pull the blanket of dreams on our eyes.
Sweet revelries, sour child.
Keep thinking of you.

Hollow

How tasty are the words
You’re spitting,
Like verses
Unnerved
And my nerves
Are tired,
You breathe
And here I think
I feel you kisses down my neck,
But it’s your tasty, lovely noose,
That’s making me obtuse
A silly goose
That tastes like chocolate moose.
Oh, let me dip into you,
The lovely spruce
Of infinite envy
And infinite hope,
Infinite nothings
And old tired tropes.
I lay at your feet,
Still signalling deep,
Your words are like tasty desires and sins,
I’m mesmerised by your hollowness within.

What if

People in your life
Die
So that you can live.
They die
So that you can find reasons to live,
And until you’ve lived
You cannot pass,
Until you’ve loved
You cannot make the matter mass
Until you’ve found someone to
Latch on to.
You cannot go into the unknown.

What if we only die
When our last love has found
Someone to love,
Someone to care for,
Someone to replace us.

What if we die to save our loves
Until they find a different way to love?