Miley Cyrus Stuns With ‘Plastic Hearts,’ a Rock Masterpiece


Sydney Stam

(Graphic by Sydney Stam I Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kate Button, Arts Writer, Copy Editor


After seeing Miley Cyrus cover The Cranberries’ “Zombie” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” fans were clamoring to see the artist produce a full rock album, and on Nov. 27 — Cyrus delivered.

In the three years since Cyrus’ last album release, her personal life has remained a main staple in the media. From her marriage and subsequent divorce to Liam Hemsworth, vocal cord surgery, the destruction of her home due to California fires and her struggles with substance use and addiction, it’s clear to see that Cyrus’ life has been plagued with difficult times as of late. However, on “Plastic Hearts,” Cyrus rises above these struggles and triumphs through a fresh exploration of rock music. 

Track by Track

“Plastic Hearts” is a 15-track project that is star-studded with featured artists such as Billy Idol, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett and Dua Lipa. This album marks Cyrus’ first fully rock album, and this debut is possibly her strongest work yet. The album is raw, vulnerable, angsty and wonderfully indulgent. 

Cyrus’ seventh studio album opens with “WTF Do I Know.” As a strong and forceful opener, Cyrus clearly breaks with her pop and country past. Leaning into the gravelly parts of her voice, Cyrus asks, “Am I wrong that I moved on? And I, and I don’t even miss you / Thought that it’d be you until I die / But I let go, what the f—- do I know?” As she copes with the loss of a relationship and “getting married just to cause a distraction,” Cyrus embarks upon a journey to discover who she is — without being overly dependent on other people or substances.  

On the album’s titular track, Cyrus discusses issues of toxicity and authenticity in California. As we are re-learning who Miley Cyrus is, the line “plastic hearts are bleeding” echoes throughout the album. The dichotomy between the plastic and organic materials is an ever-lasting reminder that no matter how polished or fake someone appears on the surface, we are all human underneath. 

Although “Plastic Hearts” is fundamentally a rock album, Cyrus’ ballads add an additional layer of emotional depth and honesty as she steps into more stripped back stylings. “Angels Like You” features a lone acoustic guitar accompanying Cyrus’ vocals in the first verse. The instrumental build throughout the song creates a powerful effect that hinges on discussions of grief while echoing Cyrus’ continued biblical and purgatorial references that are present throughout the album. Additionally, on “High,” Cyrus incorporates a few folk-inspired instrumentals as she reflects on saying goodbye, having regrets about the past and attempting to move forward and stay clean. She has to cope with a lack of control —  admitting, “I get a little too hurt / Got my mind going places it ain’t wanna go.” But throughout the pain, Cyrus is still able to say goodbye despite still reminiscing on the highs of the relationship.

At the other end of the album’s genre spectrum, Cyrus also leans into some ‘80s inspired rock in her collaborations with Dua Lipa and Billy Idol. “Prisoner” takes on a retro pop-rock feel whereas “Night Crawling” feels a bit more rebellious with punk influences and rough vocalizations. Both of these collaborations breathe new life into the already stunningly successful album. As Cyrus harmonizes with Dua Lipa and Billy Idol, she adapts to their musical stylings, but these tracks still retain the new and unique Miley Cyrus rock sound. 

For more retro nostalgia, the crossover track, “Edge of Midnight” — which combines Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” with Cyrus’ “Midnight Sky” — showcases her newfound ability to translate older classics to the modern rock scene. The two tracks are effortlessly blended in this remix, and Cyrus’ talents in the rock genre are impossible to ignore. Throughout the album, Cyrus brings ‘80s rock to 2020 in an irresistible and intoxicating modern application of classic rock.

As the last song on the album before the remix and before the two live cover songs, Cyrus’ “Golden G String” offers a sense of optimism and hope in contrast to the darker and angsty tracks that have populated the rest of the album. “Golden G String” is the most pop-sounding song on the album, but it infuses hippie-rock sounds as Cyrus realizes, “I should walk away, but I think I’ll stay.” With apathy towards the current political climate, Cyrus decides to stay and work through whatever issues are present. It is an ode to working on yourself and society, even if “caring for each other’s just too 1969.” 

Final Verdict 

“Plastic Hearts” is undoubtedly already one of my favorite albums of 2020. There are no songs on the album that I skip when listening to it, and I was initially in awe of just how intricate and enchanting each track is. Each song on the album builds upon the last to present a new and incredible exploration of the rock genre. Cyrus seems to have found her perfect fit with her unique take on rock that borrows from retro sounds to more contemporary techniques. “Plastic Hearts” is truly a masterpiece that is well-worth repeat listening sessions.


5/5 stars


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