[ALBUM REVIEW] Cyrus sings about maturing female empowerment in Plastic Hearts

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Miley Cyrus’ new album includes throwback tracks and collaborations that exude her confident and experimental approach to music.

Ali Browne, Staff Writer

Debuting at No.1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart for the week of Dec. 12, Miley Cyrus’ latest album, Plastic Hearts, redefines her music with a new confident sound.

While the full album was released on Nov. 27, “Midnight Sky,” which was pre-released in August, contains lyrics that set the whole theme for Plastic Hearts, “I was born to run. I don’t belong to anyone/I don’t need to be loved by you.” Cyrus has a newfound acceptance of herself, and she doesn’t need anyone else’s opinion in this empowering anthem. While collaborating with artists Dua Lipa, Billy Idol, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and Stevie Nicks on the album, Cyrus also puts her own spin on classics.

Cyrus’ ability to belt while maintaining composure and staying on tune never ceases to impress in each of these memorable tracks.”

After a TikTok of her performance of “Heart of Glass” by Blondie at the iHeart Festival went viral, fans eagerly awaited the album’s release. Rocking a new mullet, a sheer bodysuit, and bright red lipstick, Cyrus is the epitome of confidence as she dances around the stage. She proudly embraces her powerful and deep voice that adds a new dimension to Blondie’s hit. The heavy drums and guitar mixed with added vocal riffs allow listeners to feel the nostalgia of the late 70s while experiencing a revamped version of a classic song. Stevie Nicks joined Cyrus in combining “Edge of Seventeen” and “Midnight Sky” in a track called “Edge of Midnight,” which is by far the best collaboration on the album. The remix brings out the raspy tones in each of their voices that compliment each other perfectly. The transitions between the two original songs’ choruses are seamless. The track “Plastic Hearts” combines a catchy drum beat and harmonies before the intensity increases and Cyrus’ strong rock-inspired vocals take over. Cyrus’ ability to belt while maintaining composure and staying on tune never ceases to impress in each of these memorable tracks.

Despite the overwhelming rock theme to Plastic Hearts, the songs “Angels Like You” and “High” bring listeners back to Cyrus’ hit “Malibu” with raw vocals accompanied by softer instruments. In “Angels Like You,” Cyrus gets vulnerable and opens up about her alleged failures in relationships, “I brought you down to your knees/’Cause they say that misery loves company/It’s not your fault I ruin everything.” She feels like she drags her partners down with her struggles, which is a level of insecurity that Cyrus has never shown before. A memorable lyric of “High” reflects on the struggle to fully let go of a relationship, “And in my head, I did my very best saying goodbye, goodbye/And I don’t miss you, but I think of you and don’t know why.” Cyrus touches on how even when she tries to come to terms with a breakup, she can’t erase the person from her life. The honesty about getting over someone makes the song very relatable.

Although collaborations and covers bring some of the best songs on the album, they also bring the worst. Cyrus’ cover of “Zombie” by The Cranberries is an unnecessary feature on the album. The minor key is unsettling, and although her voice maintains power, Cyrus’ spin on the song only lessens the appeal of the album. One cover is enough, but having two leaves listeners wanting more original work.

Since the release of “See You Again,” thirteen years ago, Cyrus has struggled to find her sound as an artist. Hits like “Party in The USA” and “7 Things” gave her the image of a stereotypical teen writing pop songs about love and having fun. Between 2013 and 2015, Cyrus completely altered her image and released the albums Bangerz and Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz. Her music became more explicit, sex-positive, and debuting songs like “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” showed she was no longer Disney’s little girl. Cyrus’ sixth album, Younger Now, featured “Malibu,” which frequented the radio in the spring and summer of 2017. Cyrus has gone through many phases in her career, but rock-influenced Plastic Hearts shows she is more confident in her music than ever before.

Despite a few tracks that fall flat, Plastic Hearts is Cyrus’ strongest album yet. It mixes intense and passionate tracks with soft and emotional ones in a way that connects to Cyrus’ previous works while still allowing her to move forward in her career. The variation allows listeners to connect with their emotions or walk away with a sense of empowerment, depending on which tracks they listen to. This album has the power to restore excitement in fans for what the future of Cyrus’ career holds.

Rating: ★★★★