Miley Cyrus: Plastic Hearts (RCA) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 7th, 2021  

Miley Cyrus

Plastic Hearts


Dec 09, 2020 Bookmark and Share

Out of all the pop stars that have been riding the airwaves for the past decade, Miley Cyrus seems to be the most consistent in her defiance of playing by the rules. Though she had a cookie-cutter pop star career cut out for her, she has made it a trend to continually go against the grain and reinvent herself, making some truly interesting career decisions, what some might even call full 180s, along the way (what other pop star at the height of her fame would make a 90-minute psychedelic rock album with The Flaming Lips and release it for free on SoundCloud?). Say what you want about Cyrus, but one can’t deny her ambition. After several different eras of her career where she seemingly dove into a new genre each time, she takes inspiration musically and aesthetically from ’70s/’80s rock on her latest offering, Plastic Hearts, and (mostly) sticks the landing.

Taking inspiration from rock artists like Joan Jett and Billy Idol, Cyrus wears her influences on her sleeve quite literally by featuring these very same artists on songs in the tracklist. She takes the punky, reactionary core of the music that these artists have created and uses it as a backdrop for tales of issues in both her public and personal life, perfectly illustrated on the snappy album opener “WTF Do I Know,” where she dances around the ashes of a dissolved romantic relationship. Many songs read as a middle finger to the status quo, making this genre a perfect vessel for Cyrus to utilize both her signature no-fucks-given attitude and unique singing voice, which she utilizes in never before heard ways on this album, spending many a chorus working her voice up to a vicious growl. She lets us know in a visceral way her refusal to be tied down, whether by a relationship, the patriarchy, or even her critics. The same sentiments expressed a whole decade ago during her Can’t Be Tamed era are still in full form, now present alongside the perspective that comes with being an adult.

Cyrus continues to reveal her knack for catchy pop tunes on songs such as lead single “Midnight Sky” and manages to hold her own on collaborations with legendary artists, like on “Night Crawlin’” with Billy Idol and “Bad Karma,” her collaboration with Joan Jett in which the two of them sound remarkably alike to the point where they are almost interchangeable. Cyrus slows things down from time to time to throw in more emotionally driven ballads that reveal vulnerability, which tends to be where the album loses energy as opposed to gaining depth.

In an interview with Zane Lowe, Cyrus spoke about how she wrote this album wanting to cater to her fans as opposed to merely thinking about herself, and that might be the wrench in the machine with Plastic Hearts—Cyrus is at her best when catering to no one but herself. This may be a hot take, but in this author’s humble opinion, Cyrus’ 2015 album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz represents her most fully realized body of work. It was an honest and introspective artistic expression that made no concession to the listener whatsoever, and that energy tends to be where Cyrus thrives. On Plastic Hearts, that energy seems to be missing, taking the emotion along with it. This isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have its own moments of poignancy and heartfelt sentiment, but it lacks the punch and personality that Cyrus has proven to be able to deliver (after all, she managed to make a song about a dead blowfish a genuine tear-jerker). Despite the unnecessary concessions to conventionality, Plastic Hearts still manages to reveal even more layers to Cyrus’ ever-expanding musical palette, proving she can take on whatever genre she desires and give it her own unique sense of flair. We’ll just have to wait and see what she pulls out of her musical bag with her next album era—with Cyrus, you have to expect the unexpected. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 3/10


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