tue 21/09/2021

Album: Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts

Album: Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts

Miley's ever-shifting sound alights on a Big Eighties aesthetic

Miley Cyrus has always been, broadly, A Good Thing. A Top Pop Star. A sassy, funny, puritan-scaring, omnisexual chaos monkey at the heart of pop culture, doing pretty much whatever she fancies when she fancies. Not that this has always meant she’s made good music, mind you.

Over her six previous albums, she’s swerved through bubblegum pop, EDM, trap, Broadway showstoppers, raging dubstep, faux-lo-fi psychedelic chillwave (with The Flaming Lips in tow), straight country, and the rest. And while there have been gems at each stage of her career, there have also been quite a few hot messes along the way. 

That said, relative maturity seems to suit her. Even in her teens she had the singing voice of a hard-living, hard-working, roadhouse-touring, bourbon swilling four times divorced 50-year-old, and she’s steadily grown into that voice as she’s dialled down her tendency for athletic showboating and pursuit of ludicrous rave intensity. Thus her last album, 2017’s heavily country rock-leaning Younger Now, was by far her most consistent (and, incidentally, an infinitely more convincing pivot to rootsiness than Taylor Swift’s recent Pitchfork bait). And 2018’s Fleetwood-Mac-go-disco Mark Ronson collaboration “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” was easily her best single to date. 

This time round she’s shifted again: the theme here is the mid Eighties new wave / soft rock interface. The reverbs are big, the sounds are slick, the big single “Midnight Sky” seemingly deliberately references both Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” and Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight”, and as if that wasn’t enough both Billy Idol and Joan Jett add guest vocals to really hammer home what the aesthetic is. And... it broadly works. There’s plenty of drama, the lyrics have real teeth, “Night Crawling” with Idol is a fantastic bit of goth disco Lost Boys sleaze, and there are no stinkers, as such. 

But the Eighties-ness of it does sound kind of mannered, and the Ronson-produced “High” – which is the furthest from Simpson / Bruckheimer-type movie soundtracks and the closest to straight up country – is a breath of fresh air in the middle; still dramatic but less archly so. But dammit, Cyrus is only 28. She can make country albums galore when she actually is a hard bitten 50-year-old; in the meantime if her mercurial muse is telling her to make big-hair-and-rolled-up-jacket-sleeves music, then even if it’s more hit and miss than her last record, the aesthetic is perfectly realised, and she remains without question A Good Thing.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Midnight Sky"

The reverbs are big, the sounds are slick

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Average: 3 (1 vote)

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