25 Oct 2015
Miley Cyrus / Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz (album review)
It's Sunday. It's the end of a really dossy week at uni that, despite having it's stressful moments hasn't really done a lot to knacker me. So I felt like I needed to be challenged, so this morning I took up the challenge of listening to ALL of Miley Cyrus' new album. For those of you that don't know, it's a 90 minute record called Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz, and was made with help from The Flaming Lips. It's truly awful as a piece of art, but y'know, I thought I'd listen to it all the way through and write my thoughts on it, because as well as being every bit as terrible as an album like this should be, it's also the best thing ever. So, cup of coffee in hand, I sat down with the album to get to really know what was going on with it.
Dooo It is a really appalling pop song that kind of has some nice musical beats underlying, but maybe from the first 'yeah I smoke pot!!!!!' vocals at the start, I knew this would be the longest 90 minutes of my life. It would be exactly the same as being stuck down a mine, in Chile, for months, and feel twice as long. But y'know, when it was followed with the rather lovely, slow dreampop number Karen Don't Be Sad, it opened up the idea that this might not be the worst album ever. It has a nice Yoshimi quality, and whilst being average, is actually quite nice to listen to - and similarly with next track The Floyd Song - the vocals are drenched in reverb and effects and kind of easy to ignore and just treat as a semi important instrument in one big Flaming Lips track. All was going okay, I thought, the main negative being that it was just bad, but good enough to be not enjoyably bad. It's okay though, soon enough I found out it was definitely appalling enough to be bad in a fun way.
Over the next few tracks, our gal Miley sings some songs about space in a way that sounds like she's taking the piss out of bands like the Lips or Pond, when really she's trying to just seriously sing some proper ballads about space, in which she tries to put her finger on 'something in the way you fuck me'. That's deep, man, that's deep. It gets even deeper on the next song Space boots, where she talks about someone looking 'cute' in a 'space suit', and by this point this album firmly reaches the point where it's so appalling that it's enjoyable - kinda, with Miley's appalling vocal/lyric combo atop a pretty nice instrumental - with some gradual Lips melodies giving this a kinda relaxing feel to it, if you can ignore Miley's unoriginal lyrics to this, where she just doesn't really get over the fact 'boot' and 'suit' rhyme.
Pitchfork call Fucking Fucked Up a 'pointless witch-house skid mark', and well, that it is, but at 50 or so seconds it doesn't really go on long enough for me to form an actual opinion, all I know is that once it ended I wish I was over. But after that, if it wasn't already enough after Dooo It's opening motif, Miley's look-at-what-an-eccentric-STONER-I-am personality that theneedledrop tears right into the swing of things; on BB Talk, our heroine Miley gets political with lyrics like 'I love you, stop baby talking' and getting deep into conversations about 'monkey emojis', which is some pretty deep shit. Don't vote for Kanye, vote for this gal.
At Fweaky, maybe a track that could have been commercially released by her label with a few swear words blotted out, I took a breather, made myself some damn fine (Aldi's own brand prison-stylé) coffee as a reward for getting this far. On Bang Me Box, the next song on the journey that Cyrus is leading us on whether we wanna go on it or not, Miley gets really overtly sexual, and far from me to chastise women for having some kinda sexuality, but via the lyrics of Miley Cyrus the whole sex thing is something I'd maybe pay to never hear again.
Milky Milky Milk is the most Flaming Lips that the album gets, with Miley's vocals being really low in the mix, and some warped, out there synths and pressing beats. I was wondering wait; is this so bad I'm enjoying it? Or am I enjoying it? Hmmmm.
This question was answered towards the end of the song as Miley's vocals took centre stage a bit more, and she took on board the persona of someone that can sing about 'milky milky milk' with a straight face. This is definitely so bad it's good. That phrase was invented for this kind of artistic abomination. This hypothesis was again furthered as Miley burst into Cyrus Skies, a five minute centrepiece of the album. Not in two years of reviewing albums have I felt so offended by a record.
Slab of Butter is a very cliched pop number with a cool Lipsian breakdown to keep you hangin' on in there, and I'm So Drunk is a little segue that ought to be too short to be offensively bad, but Miley gives it a good go. A really good go.
BUT ALAS, around I Forgive Yiew, I begin to forgive yiew Miley. You're not all that bad Miley. You're just trying a bit too very hard, it's a phase we all go through this, only Miley has Wayne Coyne as a pal to make a 90 minute album out of the peak of her I Don't Know Who I Am phase. And this album is ultimately endearing, with its general playful feel, and even though 99% of the lyrics are shite (with 1% of them being 'surprisingly ok'), Miley gives it a good go to do what she wants to do with this album. Although the lovely Beach House ripoff of Karen Don't Be Sad seems a long way away at this point, I can't stay mad at this album for too long, because it's just an enjoyable amount of batshit to combat the fact it's an unenjoyable amount of BAD.
I Get So Scared and Lighter continue the whole It's So Bad You Can't Help But Smile thing, both of them going for the heartstring tug, and ultimately not quite succeeding but being intriguing enough for you not to tune out, which I'm sure is Miley's most realistic goal. Although Lighter's lyrics ('when I need a fire, you are my lighter') are so bad that maybe it's for the best if you do tune out. The lyrics for all of this album are truly awful, but this is a low ebb, kind of surpassing the whole enjoyably bad thing, and just being poor.
At this point, Calum had reached his limit, took a half time breather and some beans on toast, and resumed with Tangerine, which features the first guest star Big Sean, who sounds about as uninterested at this point as most of Miley Cyrus' fanbase does. It is, however, one of those songs that goes for the emotional angle, and it's actually quite good. It's still a bit on the odd side hearing Miley sing through what sounds like an intercom over the top of an overblown strings section. This song also acted as something that showed just how long double albums are, and why bands would rather record a half an hour long record than an hour and a half one.
Tiger Dreams sees her collaborating with Ariel Pink, which excited me a little, but not too much, because I feel like Ariel Pink holds the same sorta place in my heart as Miley. Sure yr alrite mate, but yr just a bit of a tosser. But still, this is another song you can tell yourself is the Flaming Lips, and I guess this is for the best, probably, and is among the best on the album because you can't really fault it, it's just an average psych number, although I don't really see what Ariel Pink is doing.
Throughout the album Miley only really sings about the nonsensical bollocks of dreams that she probably didn't actually have, how edgy she is for smoking weed, having sex, SPACE, and occasionally she touches on fictional animals. This is something that kind of seems annoying from the offset, but ultimately it's almost relieving that nothing ever gets too heavy, and you're never challenged by any lyrics.
1 Sun came on, and I realised SHIT, I'm approaching the end of an epic journey, things will never be the same again. 1 Sun is either the best song or the worst song on the album, in which our Miley gets #deep - 'we only have 1 sun, 1 moon, 1 me, 1 you' - yet again. 'Can't you see the clouds are dying?' she sings, becoming the latest in a line of singers that basically just, makes nothing statements that might be linked to a half wish for world peace, or might just be a stoner realisation that it might just be best to treat shit right. Who knows? Miley's lyrics are just so terrible that even looking into them this much makes you realise just how bad they are.
Pablow the Blowfish is a highlight, a high watermark for civilisation, in which Miley sings a love song to a blowfish she loves. She gets sad because her real life on land friends eat her not so real life sea friends. I think this is the first time it's obvious her lyrics aren't one hundred percent serious, which is almost concerning, considering what the first 80 minutes of this album were like. It's also where she sounds most emotional, again, slightly concerning. This is just a slightly concerning album on the whole really. I mean you hear stories of child stars 'losing it', but at least Macaulay Culkin never put together a 90 minute album of psychedelic pop when he went off the rails.
Penultimate song sees the most pretentious point on our journey, which says a hell of a lot; it's just an atmospheric piece called Miley Tibetan Bowlzzz or something like that, and I feel like it's something that is just best we never mention ever again. Sweet. On closer, Miley FINALLY writes a vaguely moving song, Twinkle Song, which sees her ask 'what does it mean? What does it mean?' which is a question many of her fans are left with after this record. I mean, she gets more into screaming 'WHAT DOES IT MEAN?' at the end, and it's even more horrific than anything Adele could ever produce, even at her most horrific. Miley Cyrus sound appalling here, properly absolutely appalling, at her absolute worst, even for this album.
But maybe it's a fitting close to the record; it's horrible, it's vulgar, her voice is appalling, and the lyrics are even worse than you could ever imagine lyrics could be. But y'know what? Who cares. There might be no good songs on it, it might be unlistenable, and I might certainly never want to hear it again, but Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz is A MODERN DAY MASTERPIECE. Over 90 unlistenable minutes, in which Miley Cyrus creates some of the worst music imaginable, she leads you on a spiritual journey that will ultimately make you appreciate the silence more than ever before. I've listened to 2 hourlong albums by Swans, and things like Sunn o))) but nothing could quite prepare me for this; it's sonic torture that Michael Gira could only dream of doing, almost nightmarish, but for the same reason, the greatest work of art since the Starry Night on the Rhone.
I might add though, it is admirably ambitious, and I do quite like the idea of a really batshit album like this, but ultimately, too much of it is unlistenable psychedelic pop with about as much depth as an Oasis b-side, even with the advent of the Flaming Lips means that this isn't quite the fun listen it should be. Kudos Miley, good go, but maybe put a little more thought into it next time.
for the record, this album is also going to be awarded a 10 out of 10, as well as a 0 out of 10, to go with the review score you're about to read - or probably have read - below
(written by calum cashin)