Release Date: Aug 30, 2015
Record label: Self-released
“The only laws I obey are the ones I’m makin’ for myself”, Miley Cyrus sings on ‘Slab Of Butter (Scorpion)’, a psychedelic sex jam that arrives halfway into her sprawling 92-minute fifth album. While the 22-year-old singer hasn’t declared her LA pad its own sovereign state (yet), in music industry terms it’s hard to deny she’s writing her own rulebook. As she finished hosting the MTV VMAs on Sunday, Cyrus announced she’d just dropped this surprise new album – which was made for $50,000 and is separate from her deal with RCA – for free.
Ever since her Hannah Montana days, when she balanced Disney pop with rootsier songs, Miley Cyrus has proven that she's versatile. Though she spent years distancing herself from those beginnings, her eclectic approach continued as she flirted with more mature versions of pop, dance, and hip-hop. While her previous transitions were seamless, she revels in warts-and-all indulgence on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.
Miley, what's good? The lunatic pop princess dropped her surprise new album for free at the end of her hosting gig on this year's MTV VMAs. And it's a doozy: a psychedelic concept trip about sex, drugs and her dead blowfish, mostly created in collaboration with the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. The songs reference this exciting new drug called "pot," which Miley has discovered and would like to explain to the rest of us.
If nothing else, Miley Cyrus should be applauded for her clear refusal to give a fuck in terms of her public perception, former teenybopper fan base and country roots. Regardless of the actual quality of the music itself, she is exploring the music she wants to, unconcerned with commercial success or role model status. In other words, drugs may well have been the best thing to happen to the erstwhile Hannah Montana.
If your beloved dog got eaten by coyotes while you were on tour, you’d be feeling pretty reckless too. That’s the simplest explanation for this unexpected new Miley Cyrus album, one that arrived last week, following a preview of lead track Dooo It! at Cyrus’s MTV video music awards performance. Twenty-three tracks long and veering between proto-bangers bearing the imprimatur of hip-hop producer Mike Will Made It (Bang Me Box, Fweaky and Lighter, possibly the most accessible tracks here) and wiggy synth creations belying bongfuls of weed (“I’m sucking on your nipples, licking milky milky stars,” goes a bagatelle called Milky Milky Milk), Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz boasts the blessing, but not the involvement, of Cyrus’s record company.
For the most part, Miley Cyrus’ ‘& HER DEAD PETZ’ is a star-spangled ride through sugary art-pop, space-rock and the absurd. It’s also undoubtedly the most interesting and substantial thing Cyrus has ever done, an absolute beast of an album with twenty three tracks that sometimes hit, sometimes miss and sometimes transcend either category and just become a portal to the weird, wonderful and weed-filled world that her and the Flaming Lips (who produced the album) have weaved. There are some truly fantastic, fantastical moments on the album.
As the “happy hippie” stumbles across the vacant lots of pop and non-pop, we’re left to wonder what psychedelia has and will mean for a generation practicing transcendence through its parallax lineage to 1960s resistance, one currently in media res with millennial nihilism. 20th-century psychedelia was a means to transform core values and belief systems through an experience defined by alterity, the trip being an escape from a world where ideology prevented vision. The trip could yield a potentially permanent transformation to the subject.
Miley Cyrus’ music has gone to pot. The star’s new album — announced and released simultaneously, at the end of the MTV VMAS on Sunday — offers a psychedelic pop pastiche. It’s a 23-song blur that puts into sound her oft-announced love of weed.
There’s one excellent song on Miley Cyrus’ lowest-selling album, Can’t Be Tamed, called “Robot,” about her desire to no longer be a tool of the industry that’s been very lucrative for her, and vice versa. That album landed her in pop-star purgatory we could call Kiss Land, with a desire to break free of her Disney Channel prison. Her very next album, Bangerz, managed to do just that, though it’s hard to remember now that it was somewhat of an uphill battle.
The new Miley Cyrus record is a huge mess, but at least it’s an honest one. Released as a package deal alongside a few predictably gross comments (and costume choices) before and during the VMAs, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz holds true to the thesis statement Cyrus pronounced at her live premiere of weed-and-peace anthem “Dooo It!”: “I don’t give a fuck.” After hosting the VMAs, Cyrus put out a surprise double LP, co-written with the Flaming Lips, dropping it on Soundcloud for free. The record’s homepage cycles between three photos of the pop star open-mouthed, flecked with glitter and drenched in slime, visually echoing the art-via-porn aesthetic of photographer and painter Marilyn Minter.
There is unlimited supply, on the Internet and in "real life," of opinions about Miley Cyrus, but nobody can deny that she is interesting. The young, innocent girl behind Hannah Montana—a property often synonymous with Disney's clean, family-friendly image—gradually evolves into a typical child-star trainwreck, exploring drugs and sexuality, and then into something else entirely: a relentlessly real, authentic, down-for-anything crazy person. That's not a dig; Cyrus herself would probably proudly accept such a description.
Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz dropped from the sky to cap off last weekend’s Cyrus-hosted VMA Awards like so much phallically-deployed glitter. The free 23-track album, written and recorded outside the governance of Cyrus' label and co-produced in large part by Wayne Coyne and other Flaming Lips members, appeared on Sunday accompanied by a New York Times interview where Cyrus detailed its making. In it, she recalls being told by her team that the album was too long.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Miley Cyrus at the end of her courageous, but ultimately bad performance at the VMAs decided to let the world know that she was releasing a free album. A project that myself and others alike weren't exactly interested in hearing or were ever going to listen to in the first place. But, after a glance at the stout and star-studded credits, it appeared that Cyrus might be onto something.
Welcome to Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, or, as it should be known: Miley Cyrus’ sprawling, drug-induced, wet nightmare—an album so sexy, terrifying, and utterly nonsensical it defies precedent. These adjectives, of course, embody Miley’s goals. While she began as a musician, in recent years Cyrus has veered closer to performance artist than singer.
By most accounts, it looked like she was going down the drain. The insipid pre-recorded skits. The jokes with flat punch lines. The very uncomfortable and heated exchange onstage with Nicki Minaj. The “accidental” flashing of her breast caught on camera backstage. A spiral was in motion, with ….
There’s no question that Miley Cyrus’ free surprise album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, is deeply flawed. At 23 tracks and 92 minutes, it’s a slog to get through. Musically, it’s often soporific—courtesy of lugubrious tempos steeped in stoned-motion psych-rock and zoned-out electronic grooves, and arrangements that lack rigor—and juvenile: Obvious moments such as the fractured ’80s robo-funk of “I’m So Drunk” and the self-explanatory “Fuckin Fucked Up” give way to provocative, stream-of-conscious musings about pot and sex.
As long as we are actually listening to it, rather than considering its intentions, this post-pop-machine, experimental Miley Cyrus record, which has been streaming on SoundCloud since the end of Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, is not too good. “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” is long and slack, stretching many of its 23 songs out of meager ideas, and puts raw faith in the weird or the nonvarnished, as if she had just recently discovered those concepts. (Maybe it’s best to hear it as another extension of her Instagram feed.) It’s cheap, clashing, blunt, a kind of psychedelic outsider-cabaret act full of non sequiturs.
Miley Cyrus, seen at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, has a new album, "Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz." Miley Cyrus, seen at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, has a new album, "Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz." Here, in a nutshell, is the implicit marketing push behind “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz”: With 23 songs full of F-bombs, strange sounds and enthusiastic references to weed, this album is totally crazy — and what makes it even crazier is that it’s by Miley Cyrus, the former Disney Channel star. Here, in a nutshell, is the truth about “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz”: This album is not very good — and what makes it even worse is that it’s by Miley Cyrus. This is a modal window.