Miley Cyrus is one of the most polarizing names in music. Some people love her free-spirited approach to music that started in 2013, while others long for the return of the “Party In The U.S.A” era Cyrus.
As someone who grew up watching Cyrus play Hannah Montana on Disney Channel, I’ve seen her come a long way in terms of finding a musical style and identity. On Cyrus’ newest album “Plastic Hearts,” she ditches her pop and hip-hop influences in favor of a rock and roll sound. After listening to this record, Cyrus does a good job at capturing rock, for the most part.
The opening song “WTF I Know” seems like a promising start to the album, as Cyrus’ raspy voice matches well with the modern Machine Gun Kelly style guitars that help lead the track. Cyrus’ lyrical chops are also put to good use with the lines “Tryin’ to see the stars through the new pollution / Think that I’m the problem? Honey, I’m the solution.” With a catchy chorus and a wicked guitar solo, Cyrus starts the album strong.
Where things start to take a turn, however, is the structuring of features throughout the album. None of the featured artists give a bad performance, but why is Dua Lipa relegated to just the first verse and chorus with Cyrus? She is a powerhouse singer who needs her own verse and having her share the spotlight without any breathing room is wrong.
This problem continues on the song “Bad Karma” which features Mark Ronson as a producer and Joan Jett as a featured vocalist. In theory this sounds like a perfect song, but in practice the track feels off.
Jett’s vocals are buried underneath Cyrus’ breathy vocals, and the production outside of the drums doesn’t do much to elevate either Cyrus’ or Jett’s personalities. The lyrics are also hollow and don’t add any value to the song, which is disappointing given the amount of talent credited.
Not all is lost though, as the final two tracks are live covers of classic rock songs. “Heart Of Glass (Live From the iHeart Festival)” sees Cyrus cover the Blondie song of the same name, and outside of not matching the range of Debbie Harry, the track is a faithful rendition.
The second and final cover on the album is “Zombie (Live from the NIVA Save Our Stages Festival).” Cyrus did the best she could to recreate the magic of the 1993 hit from the Cranberries, and just like with the previous song, the vocals are not able to outdo the original’s quality. What is recreated is the gritty guitar work and the somber nature that The Cranberries cultivated many years ago.
“Jett’s vocals are buried underneath Cyrus’ breathy vocals, and the production outside of the drums doesn’t do much to elevate either Cyrus’ or Jett’s personalities.”
“Plastic Hearts” is a rock record that will please the loyal fans of Cyrus but will leave older fans of the genre disappointed. The instrumentation is great and the lyrics are mostly well written, but the structuring of vocal features and Cyrus’ lack of experience in the genre leaves this record in a weird place.
This is by no means a mediocre album, but Cyrus is in her prime when she is writing catchy pop songs with memorable hooks and popping beats. Listening to “Plastic Hearts” makes me want to listen to “23” or “Love Money Party.”