Aural Pleasure: 'Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz'

click to enlarge Miley Cyrus glittered out on the cover of Dead Petz - Courtesy
Miley Cyrus glittered out on the cover of Dead Petz

The pop-ology of Miley Cyrus has been a tricky course. She’s not the cherubic Disney star she became famous for. The 22-year-old’s grown up enough to be her own person and despite her “obscene” antics (enough so to be bestowed the honor of “worst celebrity role model for children” in Britain) she actually stands for something, a rarity in the post-apocalyptic pop landscape. Miley founded the Happy Hippie Foundation, a charity supporting homeless and LGBT youth, an animal rights activist and is a vocal supporter of gay rights (she even came out as pansexual earlier this year).

The question remains, why has so much hatred been projected at a young woman just trying to find herself, let alone finding herself being one of the most recognizable figures in pop music?

After the multi-platinum, multi-million success of 2013’s Bangerz, where else could Miley go? Creating another colossal pop album would be the expected transition, but Miley did the unexpected. At the end of her hosting gig at the 2015 VMAs, she announced that her new album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz is available for free on the internet. 

They can’t all be Bangerz, but that’s not Miley’s intention for her self-funded Dead Petz, an intimate and personal experience through Miley’s imagination. There’re no grand, sweeping ballads like “Wrecking Ball” or party anthems in the same vein as “We Can’t Stop,” but that’s the point. Like the name of the album suggest, Dead Petz pays homage to the past and the dearly departed things she loves.

The lengthy 23-song collection primarily penned by Miley herself proves that she’s not just a vapid pop star whose only purpose is to be the most obscene and scandalous on the market. In other words: She’s not just a slab of twerking meat. Of course she’s had a little help from her friend with producing, songwriting and collaborating on the album — the Flaming Lip’s Wayne Coyne, Ariel Pink (“Tiger Dreams”), Big Sean (“Tangerine”) and Sarah Barthel of Phantogram (“Slab of Butter (Scorpion)”) are among the features. But, the album is purely Miley’s, playing out like a solo album powered by the heart on her sleeve and the endless possibilities she has yet to explore in her young life. 

“I ain’t no hippie” declares Miley on “Dooo It,” the song she debuted for the “surprise” technicolor finale of the 2015 VMAs. The performance paled in comparison to her infamous romp with Robin Thicke two years ago,  even though it was chocked full of RuPaul’s Drag Race queens, it lacked any memorable controversy, good or bad. The “I don’t give a fuck” anthem itself is confrontational, catchy, but lackluster.

The songs about her literal dead pets fare much better. “The Floyd Song (Sunrise)” is a Flaming Lips-esque psych-out about her beloved husky who was killed by coyotes. “Pablow the Blowfish,” the song where she literally sobs about the death of her pet blowfish and “Twinkle Song,” which wraps up the project, are simplistic, but as beautiful as a pop starlet like the notorious Miley can dream up. Backed only by delicate piano, a vulnerable Miley pours her heart out about while questioning “I had a dream, but what does it mean?”

But what does it mean to be one of the wealthiest musicians under 25 with more opportunities than most people will be granted in an entire lifetime? On Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, Miley shows that her strength and passion as a human being far outweighs her notoriety and controvery as a entertainer. 


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