Plastic Hearts is a bold direction from a constantly evolving artist that hits slightly more often than it misses.
Miley Cyrus has made a comeback of sorts. Not that she really left but her chart success hasn’t been quite the same since 2013’s Bangerz. ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘We Can’t Stop’ were huge hits but saw criticism that aimed at Cyrus’ public antics and persona. Plastic Hearts has brought Cyrus some chart success with the smashing ‘Midnight Sky’, but it has also brought something that has mostly eluded her career, critical acclaim.
Plastic Hearts shows Cyrus bringing a rock edge to her music that feels like a good fit. The pop princess image she put forward on Bangerz always felt more like a costume she put on rather than her genuine self. That isn’t a problem, theatricality and persona’s are a part of pop music. It’s just that her new Joan Jett inspired persona feels closer to that genuine self.
Cyrus’ voice just seems to work well with a rock sound. She has a great country voice, and she attempted to show it off on her more conservative pop country/pop rock style previous album Younger Now (2017). That album under-performed, so Cyrus taking the sound that she developed there even further is a bold move.
Plastic Hearts is not a perfect album. Some songs feel very lacklustre, such as ‘WTF Do I Know’. Others are some of the best of her career, for instance, ‘Night Crawling’ and ‘Edge of Midnight/Midnight Sky’. The production on most tracks is also fantastic. Tracks produced by Andrew Watt and Louis Bell are by far some of the best tracks. These include ‘Angels Like You’ and ‘Midnight Sky’. The tracks produced by the usually great producer, Mark Ronson, are some of the worst on the album. ‘High’ and ‘Hate Me’, are some of the blandest songs on the album from a production standpoint.
From a song writing perspective, many of the chorus’ are catchy and the lyrical content isn’t amazing, but did you really expect Bob Dylan? Many are about her past relationship with Liam Hemsworth and they do contain some simple truths but nothing truly revelatory. It’s pop music and doesn’t have to be much more than that.
The album has no flat-out bad moments. There are some bland ones and some that sound eerily familiar. I’m not sure if I’m the only one that thinks ‘Golden G String’ sounds just a little like ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Gimme What I Want’ is just a worse ‘Closer’ by Nine Inch Nails. Even good songs on the album, like ‘Bad Karma’, illustrate Cyrus’ inability to really nail the Joan Jett vibe she is going for as the Joan Jett feature completely blows Cyrus out of the water. That may be unfair, but if Cyrus wanted to avoid comparisons she wouldn’t have put Jett on the album.
Plastic Hearts is a solid album that is better than most of Cyrus’ previous discography, but it still isn’t an amazing album. It has far too many inconsistencies that can dampen the truly shining moments on the album.
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