2020 – Rock / Pop
On her newest album, Plastic Hearts, Miley Cyrus finds herself in a perfect sound for her, throwing herself totally into Rock influences and built intimate tracks that also work as organic hits.
Miley Cyrus is the most multifaceted person in the music industry. She, who played a character of two personalities in the teen tv series Hannah Montana, has reinvented herself thousands of times, offering in each of her projects a personality, a style and aesthetics. While in 2008’s Breakout she sounded like a teenager still discovering herself, in Can’t Be Tamed she was already more mature, self-assured and fearless. However, it was with Bangerz that everything changed, when she appeared naked on top of a wrecking ball and smoking marijuana at parties with her high friends. At that time, she had shaved her hair and spoke the word “fuck” more than ever, which quickly changed in Younger Now, a kind of rebirth for her. However, none of those times Cyrus sounded as herself as she does on her new record, Plastic Hearts, her best project yet.
Plastic Hearts can be thought of as the fresh start that Miley Cyrus has always tried to create and never managed to achieve. Here, she shows the sensuality and determination that she showed early in Bangers, but also, the intimacy of Younger Now and a broken heart that blames itself all the time, something easily remitted to her first albums. Therefore, in this way, it is also possible to see Plastic Heart as an enhancement of all the works that Cyrus has released to date, with she presenting an even sharper, finished, personal and well-directed version of it. In addition to being much better produced and, this time, having a sound and aesthetic that fits almost perfectly with the face of Cyrus and her music, the songs here sound like all her other albums should have sounded.
Right on the album’s opener, “WTF Do I Know,” we can already see that Plastic Hearts will be this kind of well-dosed and organized mix inspired by Cyrus’ past work, however, now much more well-produced and well-written. The track features bass, clapping hands, tambourines, synthesizers and solos from heavy guitars. Ironically, she makes it all work, creating this retro Rock aesthetic while she sings, “I don’t even miss you/Thought that it’d be you until I die/But I let go, what the fuck do I know?” Fortunately, like this first track, several other songs on the album are very good, both in their lyrics and sound and in their ability to stick to people’s heads with their catchy hooks. “Midnight Sky,” the album’s lead single, is one of the best on the album both for its brilliant Rock/Disco aesthetic and its extremely memorable chorus, with she singing, “I was born to run, I don’t belong to anyone, oh no/I don’t need to be loved by you.” Also, while “Gimme What I Want” is a futuristic hit, “High” is what Younger Now should have been, a beautiful sad romantic ballad played in front of just a guitar ― something beautiful, without a doubt.
Deeper on the album, we can see the diversity that the album carries both in sound and lyrics. In the first case, for example, compare “Plastic Hearts,” which carries a milder and smoother instrument, classic of the 80’s Rock music about California, with “Night Crawling,” with Billy Idol, which works around heavier and stronger instrumentals, very similar to arena Rock. However, as much as both tracks sound different, Cyrus makes them work very well together, within an album. In the second case, compare the single “Prisoner” with “Angels Like You,” in the first she feels like a prisoner inside because her ex doesn’t leave her head, but in the second, she sings, “Baby, angels like you can’t fly down here with me.” Although this is somewhat contradictory, you hardly care so much for the simple fact that both are very entertaining.
Of course, although Cyrus shows a gigantic breakthrough here, that doesn’t mean that Plastic Hearts doesn’t carries some crooked cuts here and there. “Prisoner,” with Dua Lipa, although it sounds good, catchy and addictive, it almost never sounds like something from Miley, but rather a kind of discard from Lipa’s album that Cyrus decided to reuse. Being the album’s most dislocated track, “Bad Karma,” with Joan Jett, it sounds more like something dated from some old Cyrus work, establishing almost no connection with the rest of the album ― maybe, just some Rockish instrumentals. Also, the album has these special versions, covers and lives, which, frankly, are quite irrelevant and have no role within the album. In other words, they should just be in the deluxe version.
Finally, it is worth remembering that Plastic Heart, as already mentioned, is a kind of rebirth for Cyrus. This is clear throughout the album since in almost all songs she shows a sadness between the lines, which is related to a relationship that did not work, guilt, excessive fame or manipulation of her image. “Hate Me,” despite not being as formidable as it should be for having a slightly anti-climactic lyrics, is one of the moments where Cyrus works on her problems more explicitly. While a lukewarm instrumental play in the background, she sings, “I wonder what would happen if I die,” and continues, “I hope that it’s enough to make you cry/Maybe that day, you won’t hate me.” In the final two tracks, Miley seems to be saying goodbye. In “Never Be Me,” a romantic synthetic atmospheric ballad, she sings that regardless of what the person is looking for, she will never be enough. But in “Golden G String,” she comes to the conclusion, “I should walk away/But I think I’ll stay.” We couldn’t be happier that she will stay here.