- 27 Nov 20
Rollicking ’80s Revival From Pop Original
There are pop stars with greater credibility than Miley Cyrus. And there are pop stars who more fully devote themselves to their sworn mission to be as outrageous as possible. But no pop star recording today makes the business of being a pop star seem more fun than the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana.
As her seventh album confirms, Cyrus is an artist who does what she wants, when she wants, how she wants. A cover of The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ that replaces Dolores O’Riordan's chilling lilt with shock-waves of Bonnie Tyler pop-rock? Why not? A collaboration with Billy Idol which recasts the ’80s romper-stomper as an essential punk icon? Of course! Songs that invite you to consider that, in the power rankings of Reagan-era stardom, Madonna had nothing on Bananarama?
What a fantastic idea.
Cyrus’s vocal style – essentially a thermonuclear vocal fry – will divide opinion. But there is no arguing with the carpet-bombing charisma which she displays on Plastic Hearts. She is shot out of a high-octane cannon on opener ‘WTF Do I Know’ and soars higher still collaborating with Dua Lipa on ‘Prisoner’ and with Billy Idol on ‘Night Crawling’.
The mood throughout is of devil-may-care exuberance, as Cyrus and producers Mark Ronson, Louis Bell and Andrew Watt throw in several kitchen-sink loads of ’80s references. It all comes together in the glorious mash-up of ‘Midnight Sky’ and Stevie Nicks’s 1981 hit ‘Edge of Seventeen’ (before tailing off slightly on an over-cooked Cranberries cover).
The record isn’t flawless and is occasionally more ersatz and machine-tooled than heartfelt. It’s also too long, so that Cyrus sometimes seems to be trying to pummel you into submission. Still, the highs are stratospheric and Cyrus’ persona of child prodigy turned-world-weary pop star continues to fascinate. When it gets going, this rhapsody in plastic is simply fantastic.
Listen to the album below.