Miley Cyrus “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz”
My relation to Miley Cyrus was due for an upgrade, as it was rather rudimentary: naturally I am fully aware of what Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter is up to these days and how much she exposes of herself thanks to extensive media coverage. I would however not be able to recognise one of her songs if it was playing on the radio.
I have not willingly or consciously exposed myself to a single track of off “Bangerz” and even “Wrecking Ball” has only invaded my consciousness by means of its video – with the sound switched off. I always imagined her songs to sound like a mashup of Britney Spears and Technohead. In no way had I anticipated what Cyrus has to offer on her “Dead Petz”-album – and that is actually about the best thing that can happen to an artist: to achieve something that is genuinely a pleasant surprise to people.
Well granted, “Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz” is not part of the multi-million-publishing-deal that Miley has going with Sony; it’s not a regular follow-up to “Bangerz”. The music business is certainly not that liberal. Miley Cyrus however is (financially) independent enough to go out and do something of her own on the side and on top of that to have people like The Flaming Lips produce her project, have Ariel Pink as guest vocalist and then even release the record for free for the word to enjoy.
“Dead Petz” is a freaky trip spanning 23 tracks. Most of the songs are ballads, just a few pieces are characterised by jittery speed-beats that I had initially anticipated. Miley broaches topics such as drungs, outer space, her dead pets (obviously), more drugs, love in the times of text messages, alcohol (“I’m so Drunk”) and then even more drugs.
Sometimes a small issue just meanders around, like a front porch song which is tenderly performed on the porch of her pink dream house (“Something About Space, Dude”). In contrast to that Miley’s smooth Discofox “Bang Me Box” would be suitable for a tacky all-plush 70s-club. “Milky Milky Milk” and “Fuckin Fucked Up”, which both feature rather explicit lyrics, fulfil the cliché, whereas the ballad “Karen don’t be sad” defies said cliché with pure beauty.
Miley screams “I HAVE A DREAM WHAT DOES IT MEAN?” in her “Twinkle Song” – have I actually mentioned before how surprisingly good her voice is in my opinion? I did not think so either. To consider “Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz” as side project to another (probably) completely differently sounding top-act is problematic, because of the quality and plenitude of the songs on offer; after all it is unfortunately probably just that. “Dead Petz” manages to move me deeply for a variety of reasons – with this album Miley Cyrus bares a lot more of herself than she does on the notorious wrecking ball.
One of the best reviews of the latest Miley Cyrus album, even though it was not actually intended as such, was given by Liam Hemsworth. According to Vip.de he said about his ex-girlfriend: “She’s a libertine. I think she will keep surprising people with what she does. She is in no way a mean-spirited person. She’s a young girl who just wants to do what she wants to do.”
And that is exactly what “Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz“ sounds like, like someone doing exactly what he or she pleases. This attitude all of a sudden lends a much more sympathetic quality to the term Frank Zappa has coined as a description of his own art, his “musical sculpture of garbage”. Garbage in this case is no longer the worthless rubbish that the arrogant genius condescendingly toys around with; it is an assorted collection of beloved items.
The term “decisive turning point” that automatically springs to mind given Miley’s reinvention as an artist therefore comes with a cruel aftertaste. The power pop that Cyrus got famous with is the C&W of her childhood and is effectively being revoked threefold in the Hegelian sense – annihilated, maintained and heightened.
The child star altered her immaculate (sound) body and emerged as powerful yet agreeable patchwork-creature made of highly polished ballads, psychedelic EDM and out-of-tune folksy nostalgia. The hybrid group of producers assembled that helped create said creature was dominated by The Flaming Lips who are themselves of a notorious hybrid nature.
This collaboration was a win-win-situation for both parties as Cyrus enabled The Flaming Lips to show off their brilliance for the first time again since “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” and The Flaming Lips gave her a record that even Lana Del Rey (despite having much better lyrics) has to surrender to for the moment.
(Translation: Tanita Sauf)