The '80s rear their head once again.
Recently, we published an article that looked at why 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd is so good and one of the reasons we gave was its clear roots in the sound of the 1980s. It's something that is gradually coming back to music more and more, with the latest proof coming in the form of Miley Cyrus' latest effort Plastic Hearts.
From start to finish, this is an excellent record. Full of synths, arpeggiators and Cyrus' husky tones, it's simply a fantastic listening experience. Though its roots and influences are clear for all to hear, it's not without its contemporary elements, and the blend of the two eras creates an album full of life, colour and soul - much like 'Blinding Lights'.
'WTF Do I Know' is a bright start to the record, with a chorus as infectious as...actually, we won't go there in a pandemic. The point is, it's a great jingle to start and sets a high standard that remains constant throughout. The title track follows on in a similar vein, before the mood is taken down a tad by 'Angels Like You', a real, proper ballad, the likes of which are becoming increasingly rare in the modern day. The quality, however, does not come down, and it's a delightful track full of emotion and power.
Those tracks, however, only hint at the album's 1980s influences. It is in the 2nd half of the album, starting with 'Night Crawling', that it really wakes up. It makes sense; after all, the song features the one and only Billy Idol and is the album's highlight up to that point. A truly electric and vibrant song, it transports you to a different era of life in the best way possible. 'Midnight Sky' follows it up with a Stevie Nicks-inspired sound - confirmed by the song's remix which mashes it up with Nicks' own 'Edge of Seventeen'. Derivative it may be, but it's a case of homage rather than theft. It's 'Edge of Seventeen', but modern and yes, poppier. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest.
So where doesn't the album excel? Well, it ends with a bit of a whimper, with 'Never Be Me' and 'Golden G String' both being a tad more run-of-the-mill, and in addition, the collaboration with Dua Lipa doesn't quite live up to the star billing of its cast. The thoroughly modern track feels just a little out of place on an album so obviously inspired by a different age and it doesn't have the quality to make up for it either. A song many would be looking forward to, it simply doesn't live up to the hype.
But make no mistake, most of the album does. Whether it's the 50/50 mix of '80s and contemporary styles on 'WTF Do I Know', or the more prevalent instances of influence such as 'Midnight Sky', Cyrus knew exactly what she wanted from this album. There's even a little bit of Country music in the form of 'High', a little nod to her literal roots in the form of her father's music.
I'm not going to lie: though I consider myself to be open-minded about music, I'd always been a bit sceptical, a bit cynical regarding Miley Cyrus' music. "The girl who played Hannah Montana?", I thought. "The girl who swung naked on the wrecking ball?"
But I have been proven wrong and then some. I love that, and I loved this. An excellent record by a woman clearly at home with her craft.
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