Crikey. If the VMAs weren’t exhilarating enough (Nicki‘s beefs, Kanye 2020, etc), the night ended in a most marvellous surprise: a brand new Miley Cyrus album in the form of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, a collaboration of sorts with good old grandaddy of psychedelia Wayne Coyne. If it hadn’t been for their great collaborations recently, this might have been more shocking than her getting her foof out on the MTV stage.
We’ve been saying this since Bangerz (which we’re glad everyone’s looking back on with great fondness), but Miley Cyrus is a trailblazer. Sure she’s had some questionable missteps – then again, so has Kanye – but any genuine creative force certainly needs to be divisive. This new record, the only label it can really accept in a traditional sense given its Soundcloud dissemination and zero cost, feels like an artist given a canvas, only to end up redecorating the entire room.
“Yeah, I smoke pot,” she starts on Dooo It!, “yeah, I love peace/ But I don’t give a fuck/ I ain’t no hippie.” And thus begins a selection box of experimental psych-rock (Karen Don’t Be Sad is pure Flaming Lips stargazed poignancy), more traditional pop (Bang Me Box), and kaleidoscopic meanderings through a weed-addled psychological landscape. With the odd occasional floating sausage and seance with a deceased dog, of course.
At times, there’s the feeling that this is just Miley’s private noodling, with wistful songs like Something About Space Dude revealing layers of vulnerability to an act who normally revels in over-confident shock value (“Something in the way you fuck me,” she disarms us over simple acoustica). Miley has recently said she changes on a weekly basis these days; certainly this album reflects the myriad moods of a complex individual who can’t easily be lumped in any sort of personal or professional categories.
But that’s what makes her exciting, an auteur in the face of tried and tired pop. And even when she leans that way on a Mike WiLL joint like Fweaky or Cyrus Skies, she sounds like the edgy voice Lana might like to be, that is if she could ever step out of Hollywood glamour and rummage through the bins every so often. There’s a brilliant 12-track album in here somewhere – songs like BB Talk and Milky Milky Milk are instances where Miley needs to perhaps realise that not everything needs to be shared (the latter including a choice line, “I’m sucking on your nipples”), but there’s admiration for her doing so anyway. In one jacked-up hit, Miley Cyrus challenges commercial expectations and the output of her pop contemporaries, making her next move more exciting and more joyously unpredictable than any major label puppet out there.