From the first notes of slow burning opener “Adore You,” we can hear that it’s happened: Miley Cyrus has been reborn. “Well duh,” you say? Not so fast. Sure, she’s been on the mouths of everyone from CNN anchors to tabloid rats to your grandmother who still wants to know exactly what “twerking” is, but one thing that’s been in limbo for some about Cyrus is whether she’s in control of her product or not. Is she puppet or master? With this, her fourth studio album, it’s certain. She’s in charge, and she’s not going anywhere.
Self-assured and completely audacious, Bangerz is precisely the delectable slice of pop Miley needed to deliver. First single “We Can’t Stop” (inarguably one of the biggest songs of the year) still sizzles with its nonchalant, devil may care attitude, fashioning a sound that pervades the rest of the piece, keeping it spinning hard and fast throughout an ideal 50-minute running time. The dementedly fun “4×4” sounds like someone poured purple drank into the punchbowl at the town’s annual hoedown. Quasi-title track “SMS (Bangerz)” finds Cyrus in allegiance with Britney Spears, Bhangra moans, and verses at one moment nonsensical and the next riotously droll; “They ask me how I keep a man, I keep a battery pack!” she yelps. “#GETITRIGHT,” despite its annoyingly hash-tagged title, is a solid gold standout, its bouncy Pharrell backbeat dripping off the walls as Lolita-Miley begs an absent lover to come join her in bed. As she moans, “I feel like I got no panties on,” one might assume that all she’s trying to do here is shock us. Tut, tut!
What makes the whole thing so inspired is the way she deftly switches from one extreme to the other, from titillating to heartbreaking. You’d have to live under a rock to not have heard “Wrecking Ball” which holds the distinction of being Cyrus’s first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and deservedly so. No matter how many animal-starring parodies of its video are released or analyses of “that sledgehammer” are discussed, nothing can take away the song’s formidable power, Cyrus’s voice booming out from behind the shell of a broken heart. Similarly, gut-wrenching cuts “Drive” and “Someone Else” dig painfully deep. On the latter, she cries defeatedly, “If you’re looking for love, know that love don’t live here anymore. He left with my heart. They both walked through that door, without me.” But then Miley spins us right back around, rebounding and going all baby Winehouse on her cheating louse of an ex with the slinky “FU.” Directly after that, we get “Do My Thang,” a stomping, defiant kiss off to her skeptics, she a “southern belle, crazier than hell.” The entire production really does feel like a movement towards something new, something fresh, and Cyrus, whether you love her or hate her, clearly deserves credit (alongside co-executive producer Mike Will Made-It) for taking her career by the reins and banging it all around town in ways she specifically sees fit. All that’s left for us to do is either turn it up, or turn it off. Simple as that.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I just turned it up. – Matthew Kelley Rand
[author ]Matthew is a 22-year-old entertainer based in New York City. Currently enrolled at NYU, Matthew considers himself a renaissance man while fully understanding that that makes him sound absurdly pretentious. When he’s not acting, singing, dancing, directing, writing, modeling, or searching for Skip-Its on eBay, Matthew is probably looking in the mirror or eating carbs. (You should know that he’s a recovering narcissist and loves pasta salad.) Matthew has always prided himself on having exceedingly eclectic taste in music, but in reality he just loves Britney Spears. A lot. [/author]