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
A riotous injection of day-glo, bubblegum pop punk right where we need it!
New single Ink is Sarah Sunday’s third release and it’s packed with the kind of confidence, earworm hooks and grin-inducing fun that makes it feel like she’s been beamed directly from a 1980s episode of TOTP.
Sarah lists her biggest musical influences as Avril Lavigne, Hey Monday and The Smiths which gives you a fair idea of the pleasing mix of cheeky wit and joyful defiance in her music. But on this track in particular I’d say she’s channeling the spirit of Shampoo and Helen Love topped off with a sunny early 00s EDM edge.
I absolutely love this song and if you like your rebel sneer glammed up with neon lipstick then I think you will too. But, as the peppily ‘fuck you’ lyric says, ‘if you get mad then that’s your bad’.
ARTIST: Sarah Sunday
MOOD: Peroxide petulant
My favorite releases from the week ending 15/11/2020
Holiday Sidewinder – Red Right Hand
Hot Chip, Jarvis Cocker – Straight To The Morning
Pale Waves – Change
Lauren Aquilina – Latest Ghost
Badge Époque Ensemble, Jennifer Castle – Just Space for Light
Woodkid – Goliath
Oscar Scheller – Half Eaten
Jhana Boy – My Girl
Teenage Fanclub – Home
Haiku Hands – Suck My Cherry
Follow the playlist on Spotify
Kylie and disco go together like glitter and sequins. No other genre of music so closely matches her particular brand of classy but saucy, so this should be a triumph – and it very nearly is.
There is nothing particularly inventive or startling in this album but I’m not sure that’s what anyone wants from Kylie anyway. Past attempts to stray too far from brand have mostly led to disaster and she is at her best when producing the kind of music that feels familiar, comforting and safe but without being cynical or phoned-in. The 3am cocktail that you cry into or that one pair of heels that look sexy as hell but don’t make your feet ache.
DISCO, on the whole, fulfils this brief but while a few of the tracks (Miss a Thing, Supernova, Hey Lonely) knock it out of the park there is a general feeling of too much filler and not enough killer. Most of the album was recorded during lockdown and at times there is also a slightly demo-ish feel to some of the songs that makes me wonder how they would have fared in more normal circumstances.
Nothing on this record is terrible and most of it is very enjoyable but like much of her post-Aphrodite output it falls squarely in ‘good but not great’ territory. There is enough quality here that it should keep her fanbase happy and her career ticking over but it is unlikely to be the boost that I would love her to have.
ARTIST: Kylie Minogue
TOP TRACKS: Supernova, Miss a Thing, Hey Lonely
MOOD: Dancing under the mirrorball in your living room
Poppy’s evolution from uncanny valley arthouse fembot to industrial metal angst machine reads more like a Black Mirror pitch than your standard celebrity gossip. Following her split from partner and puppet master Titanic Sinclair the inference is that this is now the ‘real’ Poppy. The raw, angry poppy. The Poppy that won’t take that shit anymore. How much this is the case and how much this is another alter ego in the Poppy funhouse hall of mirrors is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly a stark departure from the bubblegum, satire drenched electro-pop she made her name with.
Musically this album might not be quite ‘post-genre’ as it claims but it’s certainly a crazy riot of sub-genres encompassing everything from deathcore to drum and bass and stompy goth. On the whole it works but it does feel at times like someone trying on a few different outfits to see which one they like best then deciding just to wear them all at once. Individually the tracks are exhilarating but as a whole it can become a little exhausting. There is a playfulness about the rebelliousness of it all, lyrically, sonically and visually, but there is definitely a sense that we are meant to take it seriously too and I think it’s saved ultimately by being neither too ironic or too self important.
More than anything this feels like a stepping stone, albeit a mostly successful one, and It will be interesting to see where she will go from here – will she commit to this riotous sound or will there be a whole new Poppy around the corner for us next time?
TITLE: I Disagree
MOOD: Some girls just want to watch the world burn
STANDOUT TRACKS: I Disagree, Boodmoney, Fill the Crown, Bite Your Teeth
Fantastic, stylish and super cool new track ‘Nouveau’ released today by Mark Fernyhough and Steven Horry accompanied by an equally cool and colourful video featuring an awesome gang of Berlin roller girls.
ARTIST: Mark Fernyhough & Steven Horry
Debut Single ‘TV Years’ out 10/08
Having already made their mark on the London indie scene in an impressive collection of other musical projects, Toothpaste comprise of Amol (Vox/Guitar), Daisy (Bass), Poppy (Keys) and Sami (Drums) and promise to bring you ‘minty fresh pop bangers, wicked tunes and okayish oral hygiene.’*
Their first single ‘TV Years’ is set for release later this month on the 10th of August and they will be throwing a launch show, with the help of Viral Nights, at The Lock Tavern in London that night.
The song explores the sense of disconnect between people in the modern world – singer Amol describes it as:
“the sort of feeling that makes you want to stay away from the outside world, at home watching TV.”
‘TV Years’ is a great introduction to what promises to be an exciting new band – awash with dreamy guitars, swirling digital synths, and drifting vocals.
Please keep your eye out (and mouth open) for Toothpaste who are most definitely One To Watch.
Find out more here:
*none of the band are qualified to give legitimate advice on oral health.