ON NOVEMBER 27TH, pop behemoth Miley Cyrus released her seventh full length studio album, Plastic Hearts.
Throughout her extensive and at times tumultuous career, Miley has pretty much tried it all when it comes to genre; from the uber-pop teen sensation alter-ego Hannah Montana, to a foray into psychedelia and the hiphop world with 2013’s Bangerz, then a return to more country roots on 2017 release Younger Now.
But if 2020 has taught us anything, it can be used for a time of reinvention and truly finding yourself, which sees her dip her toes tentatively into the rock world.
The album opens with a deep bass groove that you probably wouldn’t even guess is a Miley Cyrus record if you weren’t aware; however her vocal remains instantly recognisable as soon as it kicks in. It’s a little too poppy-pop rather than edgy – but the fact that she keeps loyalty to these roots after so many years have passed is impressive. Title track “Plastic Hearts” is interesting instrumentally, with its heavily percussive rhythm track, not to mention another screamingly vintage guitar solo (I’m sensing this is going to become a motif of much of the songs).
“Angels Like You” has an unmistakable hint of The Beatles’ “In My Life” in the opening riff, but the song morphs into something else entirely past this comparison; it’s a beautifully performed, self-deprecating ballad, and yes the vintage guitar solo is still ever-present. Next up is the first collaboration of the album in the form of 80s’ love letter “Prisoner”, featuring Dua Lipa. This song is just mega-catchy, and an instant break-up anthem for sure. Dua is the perfect vocalist to have on this track and their voices work fantastically together. The music video is also certainly something to behold.
“Gimme What I Want” is the first track I’d go as far as to say is a little bit of a throwaway – its dance breakdown gives it a little bit of something unique, and the Chic-inspired guitar tones in the outro clearly highlight another influence on the record. “Night Crawling” brings us the second of three collaborations in the form of absolute legend Billy Idol; it really doesn’t get much more 80s, does it? He’s still sounding incredible, and if you’re a fan of this vintage 80s nostalgia wave, this song is easily the best on the record so far.
Lead single “Midnight Sky” is an instant hit; catchy, sexy, the vibe is simply executed perfectly for this tribute to the past. “High” throws it back to a country feel and suits her to an absolute tee. Cyrus just absolutely kills the tone in this song, it was made for her voice. It’s heart-wrenchingly personal lyrically as well, as she sings “In my head I did my very best saying goodbye, I don’t miss you but I think of you and don’t know why,” if you’ve ever had a break-up you can really relate.
Now we come to the duet I’ve been itching to hear since it got announced: “Bad Karma”, featuring the one and only Joan Jett. It could easily be a Runaways track, making Jett the ideal companion. This song has the dark edge I’ve been waiting for and I kind of wish Cyrus had leaned further into this angle for the rest of the release. “Never Be Me” is another stunning ballad, drenched in nostalgia; probably the most successful slower tracks of the album for me.
Album closer “Golden G String” truly hits you right in the feels. The title is a complete juxtaposition; you expect comedy, you get utter bloody tragedy. It has politics, it has a personal history documented, it truly blindsided me. Cyrus sings “and you dare to call me crazy, have you looked around this place?”, and it got me thinking about all sorts of mad stuff. If you listen to any track on this album, make it this one; you won’t be disappointed.
Plastic Hearts truly took me on a rollercoaster ride. Is every song a masterpiece that will stand the test of time? Probably not, no. But the record collectively really caught me off-guard; I enjoyed it with every fibre of my being. I cannot deny someone’s talent to reinvent herself like Miley Cyrus continuously does. Her cover of Blondie’s Heart of Glass, which was released in the lead-up to the album, is probably the best I’ve ever heard; and I will die on that hill.
I hope this era of Miley gets her the recognition she really deserves, and I hotly anticipate any further reinvention road she chooses to travel down, and will firmly be along for the ride.