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Posted on September 1st, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Justin Goodman

It’s only right that Miley, given the hullabaloo she’s made since shedding the Hannah Montana airs, what with the newest charges of racism and abusing white privilege, should continue dominating the music news through aggressively elaborate and decadent performances (read: two years ago) and now, a surprise collab album drop with The Flaming Lips (available here). Heather admirably defends what I can't not see as white privilege. As I disagree for the most part in trying, I won’t add to that. But my girlfriend made a comparison I thought perfect: Britney Spears. Women absorbed at too young an age into the limelight, sexually charged and overloaded with invective, Spears and Cyrus included, progress to the point of seeking attention through what means necessary. Miley's album covers are a flipbook of a despoiled childhood. What’s saddest about this is that it tends to crowd out what is, I’ve believed since Bangerz, her real talent as a blues singer.

I lied. What’s saddest is that Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz & its shortcomings are exactly what we have created as a culture that pedestals appearance over substance.

But I digress, and apologize for my curmudgeonly introduction. You have to admit that the existence of tracks like “The Floyd Song (Sunrise)” and “Pablow the Blowfish,” ballads for her dead pets, are ridiculous when set beside the race politics of Janelle Monae or the deeply complicated portrait of motherhood painted pink by Nicki Minaj. Of course, the sincerity of “Pablo” is questionable seeing as she laughs at the end. Which might make it worse.

And these, the most personal off the album, are the more substantive. Otherwise, you have “Dooo it,” a hip-hop inspired pot anthem, the pristine yet industrially rhythmed interlude “Fuckin Fucked Up” and the FKA Twigs-lite interlude “I’m So Drunk,” the ‘90s pop throwback “Bang Me Box,” the croaking, indigestion inducing “Milky Milky Milk,” or the reaching, failing, simply acoustic “I Get So Scared.” That last one, though, stands out as a closer to her eulogies. And there’s one obvious reason why this is.

It’s off-putting to look at Miley’s Ke$ha glitter-bombed and imitation semen covered face while listening to “Fweaky.” You’d think it would be appropriate, wouldn’t you? Well, appropriately off-putting, anyway. But what’s actually wrong here is that “Fweaky” is what I’ve always expected of Miley since hearing “FU”. A trained, untrained voice belting out crappy by any musical standard but nonetheless absorbing blues (at maybe too high a tempo). “Fweaky” is heights above “FU.” Not great, for she needs time to master having an inexact voice as Kanye has, but good.

Unsurprisingly, The Flaming Lips supply the backbone of what are actually good tracks. They've always been consummate when it comes to meeting musical standards in lyrics and production. The best of the best, “Evil Is But a Shadow,” with its synth flute pipping scales over funk percussion and flippant use of space is clearly the product of the experimental rock veterans. Which is really the key flaw of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. It’s a decent rule that if it’s The Flaming Lips you’ll find Miley’s voice blends into the background, making a good instrumental track, and if it’s anyone but them her voice will run over the rims of the backtrack.

It’s easy to mock the spectacle of Miley Cyrus, and this will only add to the ridicule her name induces in others. This is clearly what someone who opens a performance with 30 dancers from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, revealing a new (and previously unimaginable) album, with the hyper-synthesized belt of “just smoke pot” wants. It’s attention, after all. Her music reveals more about us – and I believe, to a degree, on purpose – as viewers of the spectacle; in the words of French theorist Guy Debord, “The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.” When you hear her conflictingly sing “I didn’t give a fuck/but I give a fuck” in “Twinkle Song,” keep some reservations, even with mishmosh albums like this. We make what we see of ourselves.

Track Listing:

  1. Dooo It!
  2. Karen Don't Be Sad
  3. The Floyd Song (Sunrise)
  4. Something About Space Dude
  5. Space Boots
  6. Fuckin Fucked Up
  7. BB Talk
  8. Fweaky
  9. Bang Me Box
  10. Milky Milky Milk
  11. Cyrus Skies
  12. Slab of Butter (Scorpion)(featuring Sarah Barthel of Phantogram)
  13. I'm So Drunk
  14. I Forgive Yiew
  15. I Get So Scared
  16. Lighter
  17. Tangerine (featuring Big Sean)
  18. Tiger Dreams (featuring Ariel Pink)
  19. Evil Is But a Shadow
  20. 1 Sun
  21. Pablo the Blowfish
  22. Miley Tibetan Bowlzzz
  23. Twinkle Song
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

52 / 100
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