It should be no surprise that pop’s own Rebel Queen might eventually go rawk but Plastic Hearts is in many ways a surprisingly grown-up affair, channeling the MOR side of 80s pop-rock and country. Collaborating with Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks and Billy Idol points heavily towards the mission statement for the album but there is without doubt more gloss than guitars, despite what the leather studded elbow gloves and fashion-mullet might suggest. However, while this mix will invariably generate sneers from ‘authentic’ rock music fans it hits a bullseye in her capabilities as a performer and is huge fun to listen to.
Like everything Miley has done since Can’t Be Tamed (a record that has more in common with Plastic Hearts than you might imagine) there is a perfect concoction of visuals, artwork and fashion orbiting the music. Much like Lady Gaga’s Joanne it feels as though there is an element of cosplay to the rock ‘n’ roll persona and this extends to the songs which are peppered with with cheeky sonic and lyrical nods to her influences. But while Dead Petz remains the most believably honest and raw record she has produced this new release sits firmly on the right side of contrivance, the packaging and ephemera only serving to further enjoyment of the music.
The only dud track for me is single release Prisoner, featuring Dua Lipa, which somehow feels like the worst of both artists. Otherwise this a strong and cohesive collection of songs. Night Crawling, an absolute ear worm that would be a shameless Billy Idol pastiche if it didn’t also feature Billy Idol, perfectly encapsulates the tongue in cheek side of the album whilst Midnight Sky, WTF Do I know and title track Plastic Hearts offer a more uniquely Miley take on the genre. Surprisingly ballad heavy, the album closes with what I imagine is the only genuinely moving song to have been released named Golden G String.
Miley’s vocal talents have never really been in doubt to anyone not clouded by abstract hatred of her media image but it feels like she is finally moving into a more credible position of longevity as an artist. Plastic Hearts doesn’t quite have the exuberant joy (or, ironically, as big a middle finger) for me as Bangerz but it feels like the perfect album for her stylistically right now.
ARTIST: Miley Cyrus
TITLE: Plastic Hearts
TOP TRACKS: Night Crawling, WTF Do I Know, Midnight Sky, Golden G String
MOOD: Put another dime in the jukebox, baby
Usually when sponsored ads stalk me on Instagram it leads to antipathy but in the case of the promo clip for sumptuous, retro tinged single ‘Mushroom Cloud’ it was an instant obsession. After what felt like too long a wait despite being only a few months Must Be A Dream, the band’s debut album, is released this week on Pony Records and is pleasingly not a disappointment.
Tracks mostly divide into chuggy psychedelic pop (High On My Own, Walk On The Water, Age Of The Bored) and euphoric, dreamy swoons (Must Be A Dream, Mushroom Cloud, Voices In My Head). Whilst unabashedly scraping from some of the best parts of 60s and 70s pop-rock there is a knowingness about it that rescues it from pastiche and although the band cite ELO as an inspiration it never quite tips into silliness. In fact at points it brought to mind melodic miserabilists Tindersticks and the more sensible side of Divine Comedy along with the more obvious comparisons.
There is always a danger in sailing too close to your reference points and Tempesst are definitely teetering right on that line but the lush, warm melodies and singer Toma Banjanin’s equally lush, warm vocals pull it back from the edge. A gorgeous and suitably Autumnal release that I think will become a personal favourite.
TITLE: Must Be A Dream
MOOD: Too much to dream last night
TOP TRACKS: Mushroom Cloud, High On My Own, Age Of The Bored
Birdhead released their genre bending electro-rock debut ‘Pleasure Centre’ to much acclaim nearly five years ago, so the soon to be released follow-up ‘Massive Aggressive’ has been a long time brewing. Thankfully it’s been worth the wait.
Traversing from wailing 80s guitar riffs, to throbbing funk, to vocals spat disdainfully Mark E Smith style at the listener, to the more mellow almost ambient moments of the record – Birdhead continue to do a remarkable job of making music that is both pleasingly angry, undeniably melodic and often surprisingly danceable.
Rock music for dance fans, dance music for rock fans. Music for everyone to get drunk at a disco and start a punch up to.
Highlight tracks for me are Custom Muscle, Sunsleeper, Tesseract, Autostrider, Beasts of England and the title track. This is an album with no duffers though and if you like your music with some meat on the bone (or muscle for that matter) then this one’s for you.
Massive Agressive is released on the 28th of September.
TITLE: Massive Aggressive