Review: Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz is uncomfortable (to say the least)

When Miley Cyrus cut off her hair and released Bangerz, essentially shoving Hannah Montana into a crevice of irrelevance, she became a not so guilty pleasure of mine. Bangerz was irrevocably fun, her lifestyle and tour following suit. When she came to Australia late last year, I actually cried when she came out on stage. There was even a point when my Instagram had more photos of Miley than it did of myself. That’s why the album she released for free yesterday, Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz sits uncomfortably for me.

The album is not fun. It carries no track similar to the irresistible, We Can’t Stop, it doesn’t even have a Wrecking Ball. But it’s hard to be mad at Miley, because it is clearly an expression of artistic freedom that only a pop-star of her calibre would be able to create. While it’s the album I was worried that she would create, writing it off completely as a bad album feels like a stretch.

Recorded with The Flaming Lips, the album features 23 tracks, almost double that of Bangerz, but it supposedly cost a mere $50,000 to make – as opposed to the $5 million it took to push it’s predecessor out into the world. Miley paid completely out of pocket, with her label giving their blessings, but not contributing to the project- or considering it part of their multi-album contract.
From it’s first track, Dooo It, it is clear that this isn’t a pop album by any stretch of the imagination. The track announces itself with a cry of “Yeah I smoke pot, Yeah I love peace”, but she clearly doesn’t give a fuck – classic Miley. The song, which you may remember from her performance at the VMAs, complete with the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is uncomfortable. It sounds like she’s your friend that smokes weed once, and from that point onwards is your friend that can only talk about smoking weed.

The twitchy opening number slides ungracefully into Karen Don’t Be Sad, which is closely followed by The Floyd Song (Sunrise), and then Something About Space Dude. Three slow moving songs that sound like one really, really, slow song.

The pace picks up a fraction with Space Boots and Fuckin Fucked Up, both stronger than the tracks that came before them. BB Talk comes next, featuring dialogue from Miley herself, expressing her hatred of PDAs with an unknown male. BB Talk could slip right into Bangerz, or at least a better album than this one.

Objectively, the middle part of the album is the strongest part. While it still feels like a forced amalgamation of too many genres, the mid-section of My Dead Petz, is solid in it’s own right. It lends some hope to the idea that Miley had an asserted idea when producing this album. Tracks like Milky Milk Milk and the 46-second EDM experiment I’m So Drunk are not so much catchy, than they are examples of a genuinely well executed creative experiment.

Though by this point, it’s clear that this album is something Miley has never come close to doing before, she hasn’t completely waived her old techniques. Teaming up once again with producer Mike Will Made It to create I Forgive Yiew, the only track on the album that harbours characteristics of both her old and new style. Perhaps it would fit better at the start of the LP, to settle old fans into the hippy storm that is Dead Petz.

The rest of the album slips by slowly, the only notable track being 1 Sun, my current favourite from the album. “There may be no sun, no moon, no me, no you”, Miley sings, the as expected environmental statement coming late in the album. 1 Sun is more fast paced than the rest, if this album has any tracks that could be deemed ‘catchy’ enough for mainstream radio, it would probably be this one.

The album finally closes on Twinkle Song, a lullaby that showcases Miley’s stellar vocal skills, but that’s about it.

At Miley’s Bangerz tour last year, she invited punters to go outside for a cigarette during the slower paced songs, if they so wished. A hefty portion of the audience took her up on the offer, so now, with an entire album of such songs, I’m not sure how she’s going to keep everyone in the room. This album is good for what it is, a psychedelic, raw expression of creativity and imagination, but once again Miley has gone and completely recreated herself, leaving her old fan’s bewildered.

I realise that this review is akin to those who post on Miley’s photos with comments reading ‘Like this if u want the old miley back :'( xx’, but it’s hard not to be disappointed.
The animosity towards this album stems from the fact that it feels less like progression, and more like (yet another) fuck you to an audience that has already accepted her. Understandably, this is where Miley wants to go with her music, but with Miley’s musical style changing as frequently as seasons, I don’t know whether I can trust it.

You can listen to the album on Miley’s website.

For more, read up on why Miley is the great pop feminist of 2015