Plastic Hearts is Miley Cyrus at her best. Sure, 2013’s Bangerz was a cultural reset. Yes, it gave us hit (“We Can’t Stop”) after hit (“Wrecking Ball”) after hit (“Adore You”). But this is the record that she was born to make.
Across 15 tracks, the singer, 28, embraces being utterly unapologetic and secures her place among rock royalty thanks to collaborations with the legendary Billy Idol, Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks. She also brings Dua Lipa along for the ride of a lifetime with their badass, unintended quarantine anthem, “Prisoner.”
Much of the album is inspired by Cyrus’ divorce from Liam Hemsworth. Right from the jump, she dives into their 2019 split with “WTF Do I Know,” her most savage kiss-off since “7 Things” from 2008’s Breakout. “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,” she sings over electric guitars and a stadium-rock beat.
As Plastic Hearts progresses, though, the Hannah Montana alum’s heartache morphs into self-reflection. On the vulnerable midtempo “Angels Like You,” she learns to let go and realizes that the relationship was not meant to be — even if everything looked A-OK from the outside looking in. “I know that you’re wrong for me / Gonna wish we never met on the day I leave,” she howls.
And on the gut-wrenching power ballad “Never Be Me,” Cyrus lists off all of the reasons she was not a quote-unquote good wife: “If you’re looking for stable / That’ll never be me / If you’re looking for faithful / That’ll never be me / If you’re looking for someone to be all that you need / That’ll never be me.”
Self-love also takes center stage on the album. During the raucous chorus of “Gimme What I Want,” the Grammy nominee vows to give herself the respect and appreciation she deserves if her partner fails to do so. The beautifully constructed disco-pop single “Midnight Sky,” meanwhile, celebrates her free spirit with lyrics like, “I was born to run / I don’t belong to anyone, oh no / I don’t need to be loved by you.”
Cyrus carries the ‘80s glam-rock feel of “Midnight Sky” over to her and Idol’s stellar duet, “Night Crawling,” and pushes boundaries with her and Jett’s moan-filled thumper, “Bad Karma.” The most unexpectedly poignant moment, however, comes in the form of a song called “Golden G String,” which details the sexism that Cyrus has faced since the early days of her career. (2013 VMAs, anyone?)
“I did it all to make you love me and to feel alive,” she croons. “Oh, that’s just the world we’re living in / The old boys hold all the cards, and they ain’t playing gin / You dare to call me crazy / Have you looked around this place? / I should walk away / But I think I’ll stay.”
And stay she shall.
3.5 stars (out of 4)