If rock is dead, then Miley Cyrus just revived it with her latest release, Plastic Hearts.
After two years in the making, what was supposed to be Cyrus’ seventh album was destroyed in a wildfire that engulfed her California home in 2018. She took the tragedy as an opportunity to reinvent herself and traded in her usual pop- and country-influenced sound for classic rock ballads and electric guitar riffs. The experimental album also features collaborations with some of the most influential artists of the genre including Billy Idol, Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks.
Plastic Hearts kicks off with “WTF Do I Know,” which features a compelling baseline paired with a tambourine and Cyrus’ hearty vocals. The unapologetic track takes a jab at the media with lyrics like, “I’m completely naked but I’m makin’ it fashion, maybe gettin’ married just to cause a distraction.” The track leaves listeners feeling empowered and excited to hear what else Cyrus has in store.
Get ready to hold up your lighters for the power ballad “Angels Like You.” The track includes arguably the best vocals on the record. The emotion in Cyrus’ voice is haunting and the lyrics make it all the more soulful. Cyrus acknowledges her wrongdoings in past relationships and takes the blame in lyrics such as, “It’s not your fault I ruin everything, and it’s not your fault I can’t be what you need.” The song’s title comes from the line "Baby, angels like you can’t fly down here with me,” where Cyrus uses the dark metaphor to say her lover is too good for her.
The only problem with the album’s sixth song, “Night Crawling,” is it’s length — it’s too short. Cyrus joins forces with punk rock legend Billy Idol for this dark and gritty track that intoxicates listeners with its ‘80s-influenced sound. Prior to the Plastic Hearts release, Cyrus shared her admiration for Idol in an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe where she said, “He showed me that I could have balance, that I could make music that I and other people love, and sometimes I’ve lost that.”
Cyrus takes a vulnerable approach with “Never Be Me,” where she touches on her relationship struggles. The first verse begins with the line, “I know I do this every time. I walk the line, I play with fire,” which is a reference to Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” and “Ring of Fire.” This track sets itself apart from the rest with its sulky sound, which helps the listener focus on heavy and introspective lyrics like “If you’re looking for someone to be all that you need, that’ll never be me (hard as I try).”
It is hard for anyone to take responsibility for their flaws, and Cyrus does it through her music for the world to hear. Although the album channels a nostalgic sound, younger generations will find it refreshing. Hopefully, Plastic Hearts will influence other artists to bend genres and lean into their versatility.
5 out of 5