Again, good that both projects helped her out of her funk (that we all agree she was in) and I get why those might be the two projects some will return to, but uplifting both as untouchable while disparaging Midnights does veer into posturing.
She didn't have to hide within the pages of others' stories for Would've, Could've, Should've to make sense. You know exactly what and who it's about, to the song's emotional benefit.
I guess it makes sense cause you wouldn't find that on the likes of Question...?, Lavender Haze or Mastermind.
"Mastermind" is... perfect and the whole point is that her neuroses come not from some natural ability to be two steps ahead of everyone, but the sheer fear of lagging behind everyone. The bridge is word vomit but it's like someone calling you out on these behaviors and being forced to recognize you're not cunning but just entirely terribly damaged. The "mastermind" bit is tongue-in-cheek because the subject of affection saw through the facade the whole time.
No one said Would've, Could've, Should've works because it's "tabloid fodder". It works because it's a first person account of regret and anger. That directly tackling the subject isn't any less powerful or meaningful than writing the same song from the perspective of a 1920s saloonist estranged from her oil tycoon lover who lived within the rocky beaches of Rhode Island that Taylor once read about in the pages of an old newspaper.
That there's an art to pop music without pretension, posturing or a creative writing BFA.