This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Psychedelic Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Bang Me Box”, “Milky Milky Milk”, “Tangerine (featuring Big Sean)”
Although her gender politics are intriguing and deserve at least cursory consideration, no one in 2015 is quite as annoying as Miley Cyrus. Making racially insensitive tweets (as is her wont as a white personality), dressing in obnoxious, juvenile outfits and pretending it’s a statement, and explicitly presenting her newfound desires for recreational drug use, anything affiliated with Miley inspires a knee-jerk reaction of disgust. Dropping a free, 23-track album featuring an intimately involved Wayne Coyne (of The Flaming Lips) during the VMAs, MILEY CYRUS + HER DEAD PETZ is tedious, exceptionally self-indulgent, and not warranted in the slightest.
It must be said that in concept alone, this endeavor has some merit. Although the actual craft of the songs contained within doesn’t inspire awe, Cyrus should at least be commended for her willingness to branch out and try something new. It’s hard to separate production from persona in her case, but objectively speaking, there’s something admirable about a pop star with this large of a stake in the current cultural environment producing a work destined to alienate, confuse, and frustrate. Transgressive artistic statements aside, MILEY CYRUS + HER DEAD PETZ fails because its quintessentially dull. Cyrus turns in track after track of tepid, unmemorable psychedelic pop (“Karen Don’t Be Sad”, “The Floyd Song (Sunrise)”, “Something About Space Dude”, “Space Boots”, the list goes on), contributing to an exhausting effort that drags on and on with no relief in sight. Since latter-day Coyne has proven to be exceptionally spotty, the listener can initially content themselves with jumping onto the lifeboats offered by producer Mike WiLL Made It’s signature vocal intro, but Cyrus renders him entirely impotent; while the bite of trap rap could have contributed to album highlights, Mike WiLL Made It is relegated to turning in a slew of tame, recyclable ballads that don’t possess a single shred of artistic idiosyncracy (“Slab of Butter (Scorpion)”, “I Forgive Yiew”).
Despite the overall sense of treading water, there is a halfway-decent EP to be found scattered throughout MILEY CYRUS + HER DEAD PETZ. The string of “Fweaky” (featuring arguably the best contribution by Mike WiLL Made It), “Bang Me Box” (which features a slinky synth-funk bass and electrifying sexual themes), and album highlight “Milky Milky Milk” (deliciously weird and the most mature in terms of songwriting) offers a brief respite from the rest of the drudgery, and “Tangerine” comes out of nowhere to be the only Big Sean feature that’s ever managed to be impressive (he turns in a downplayed verse that eschews his usual braggadocio and nearly approaches the realm of backpacker rap). In addition, although both songs are nearly interchangeable, “Pablow the Blowfish” and “Twinkle Song” both possess the power of Lady Gaga’s best piano ballads (although the lyrics on “Twinkle Song” have to be heard to be believed).
Getting through MILEY CYRUS + HER DEAD PETZ is such a Herculean task that it can’t help but be wondered whether it was intended to exist as some ill-formed, anti-pop star statement. Despite the fact that five songs manage to be palatable, they certainly don’t justify the other seventeen. MILEY CYRUS + HER DEAD PETZ establishes its namesake as the most expendable modern pop star.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend