New music Friday: Release radar and reviews

Caption: Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” was just one of many major album releases on Oct. 21. Photo courtesy of Beth Garrabrant.

As the fall season and major award consideration deadlines pass audiences by, arts and entertainment productions are in full swing. Post-pandemic standards for releases and rollouts are evolving in real time, often culminating in rushes of announcements and drops from major artists at the same time. Read on to hear from the Culture section regarding this week’s biggest new music releases.

“Midnights” and “Midnights (3am Edition)” by Taylor Swift


Swifties were waiting on Oct. 21 and received 13 new tracks via “Midnights,” which was described by Swift as “a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” Three hours later, listeners were greeted with a 3 a.m. chaotic surprise which was revealed to be seven additional tracks. 

Midnights is a Taylor Swift pop album like no other. Songs like “Maroon,” “Sweet Nothing” and “Anti-Hero” are composed of narratively detailed lyrics accompanied by Swift’s rich vocals to construct a midnight delight.

“Midnights” is Swift’s most explicit album with six tracks containing explicit lyrics. Being the mastermind she is, many tracks allude to other songs and references to her life. Though most easter eggs are unconfirmed by Swift, fans speculate by comparing other album tracks and events throughout Swift’s career. 

The sonic landscape of “Midnights” contrasts her previous discography through its mellow yet sophisticated tone, which presents evidence of Swift’s growing experience as a musician. Fans also claim that the pop energy of “Midnights” — as shown by songs such as “Lavender Haze” and “Karma” — references Swift’s pop roots of “1989” and “Reputation,” resulting in a love child album of the two. For now, everyone can meet Swift at midnight anytime they would like on all streaming platforms. 

“The Car” by Arctic Monkeys


The Arctic Monkeys have hit a music evolution. On Friday, Oct. 21, they released their newest album “The Car.” In the peak of their fame, Arctic Monkeys dominated the alternative rock charts with their hits from “AM” and “Favourite Worst Nightmare.” Songs such as “R U Mine?” and “I Wanna Be Yours” topped the indie rock charts throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s.  

Drummer Matt Helders said in an interview, “It’s never gonna be like [2012 ‘AM’ single] ‘R U Mine?’ and all that stuff again, you know, the heavy riffs and stuff.” Fans were eager to see what genre this new era of Arctic Monkeys would bring. A new personal tone in an orchestra-based lounge pop funk album welcomes listeners via “The Car.”

Sonically, “The Car” evokes a vintage tranquil feel. With lead single “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball,” lead singer Alex Turner’s smooth voice is complimented by Matt Helder’s syncopated repetitive beat. “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” manipulates audio and guitar to create a funky lounge beat. The grooves of “Jet Skis On The Moat” and “Sculptures of Everything Goes” evokes listeners to distinct vibes by the use of keyboard.

The entire album has a unique depth to their lyrics, a stark contrast from their alternative hits. Resulting in heartfelt lyrics influenced by the band’s experiences, from individual personal experiences to events and locations that inspired musical inspiration. In “Big Ideas,” lyrics state “I had big ideas, the band were so excited.” Other songs such as “Hello You” and “Mr Schwartz” use their catchy beat while Alex Turner sings their complex lyrics in his upper register. This stylistic vocal choice has not been previously featured on their prior albums. Overall, Arctic Monkeys proved that they can do more than just indie pop with “The Car” while reinventing themselves as timeless musicians.

“The Loneliest Time” by Carly Rae Jepsen


Sword-swinging gay icon Carly Rae Jepsen is back with her first album since 2020’s “Dedicated Side B.” “The Loneliest Time” was initially conceived during quarantine and isolation, like many albums over the past few years, and Jepsen said the album stemmed from her loneliness and the fact that it can create some of the strongest human reactions. Jepsen, who is usually known for pop maximalism on songs like “Call Me Maybe,” “Cut to the Feeling” or “Run Away With Me,” instead strips down to focus on melody and the craft of various subgenres of pop music. If “Emotion” and “Dedicated” were masterclasses in bombastic pop, “The Loneliest Time” opts to revel in musical calmness and understated synths.

Throughout “The Loneliest Time,” Jepsen pivots across different genres and paints portraits of loneliness and love. Songs like “Bends” and “Far Away” are soft proclamations of love and hedonistic pleasure. “Western Wind” borrows from Lorde’s latest album’s sound to remind listeners of the joys of nature over soft acoustic pop. Jepsen muses about her mistakes in love on the new wave-inspired “Bad Thing Twice.” She breaks off a relationship on the banjo-plucking ballad “Go Find Yourself or Whatever,” which is Jepsen at her most vulnerable. This is not to deter from the album’s shining pop moments. The bombastic “Talking to Yourself” would not sound out of place on the aforementioned “Dedicated.” Jepsen’s infatuation with disco pours through in the silky “So Nice” and “Surrender My Heart.” However, the title track, which has blown up on TikTok, offers some of the smoothest disco pop in years. Fans and critics alike lauded Jepsen’s ability to hop genres and her fun songwriting, further cementing her as a pop juggernaut. 

“Takin’ It Back” by Meghan Trainor


Pop performer and songwriter Meghan Trainor’s sixth studio album arrived in a flurry of glitz and glamour, peppered with features and the signature earworm melodies Trainor has been recognized for throughout her career. Deftly dodging the Best New Artist Grammy award curse, Trainor has expanded beyond her bubblegum-pop roots to craft projects infused with jazz, soul and R&B influences and racked up writing credits for numerous other artists in the meantime. “Takin’ It Back” follows this evolution to present a catchy, sophisticated pop record that plays to Trainor’s strengths with a maturity only a seasoned artist can speak to. 

The album emphasizes Trainor’s confidence and relationship with fame, from the perspective of someone who has seen it all. Singles such as “Make It Look Easy” and “Mama Wanna Mambo” demonstrate Trainor’s experience creating a catchy pop hook with lyrics built to sing along to, whereas sentimental tracks such as “Rainbow” and “Remind Me” scale back the brassy production of the album to tell vulnerable stories of love and life. Fans new and old will finish the album having connected to Trainor’s stories, but not without healthy doses of dancing and swaggering inspiration.

“Here Goes Nothing!” by Adam Melchor


New Jersey-born indie singer-songwriter Adam Melchor released his fourth studio album “Here Goes Nothing!” at midnight on Oct. 21. Melchor’s previous discography prepared listeners for a new project that upholds his signatures of tenor masterpieces, bursting with melancholy scores juxtaposed by punchy lyrical storytelling.

Melchor describes his most recent album as a “trying to stay together album” inspired by his own experience with an on-and-off long-term relationship. Although the sonic and narrative contributions of his album take center stage, this collection is also to be accompanied by Melchor’s 2023 headline tour, with 33 stops across the United States. 

The album’s mood is divided into equal parts lovestruck naivety, personal introspection and despairing regret, each which serves as a striking reflection of the emotional responses to a tumultuous relationship. The album kicks off with “I’m Afraid I Love You,” which is the inciting action of the album’s overarching conceptual narrative. With its infusion of whispery, overlapping vocals, simple and repetitive piano notes and static-like production effects, the track presents a comprehensive introduction to this complicated and deeply passionate tale. “I’m Afraid I Love You” falls to the despairing side of the album alongside equally morose selections such as “Angel Numbers” and “Let Me Know When.” 

“Here Goes Nothing!” also lays claim to Melchor’s first explicit track, “Cry,” a gritty and honest look at Melchor’s struggle with vulnerability. Ending on a strong note, “Sorry Adam” ties a sweetly self-loathing bow with sustained vocal notes and a bluesy tone. “Here Goes Nothing!” met fan expectations and presents a compelling and consistent autobiography that is sure to touch Melchor’s ever-growing audience.


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