When The Artist Formerly Known as Hannah Montana announced her new album, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, the premise sounded like a joke, or an imaginary album from a very broad satire on the music industry. A previous child star releases a 90-minute psychedelic jam about drugs, peace and deceased animals. Despite all that, however, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz is all too real. 23 tracks about weed, freedom and the dead pets (or petz if you insist) of the title. Hannah Montana is dead, love live Miley Stoner Starchild Cyrus.
One way of looking at Cyrus’ career this decade is as a series of moves to make us forget about her past as the lead child-demon of the Disney Channel. In this, Dead Petz is successful. Whereas most of the novelty of her last album Bangerz was amazement at how the child star had grown up and become a genuine, provocative pop star, this is perhaps the first time you can forget entire Miley’s past when listening to one of her albums.
That, however, is not always a positive thing in terms of musical quality. Sure, you can forget that this is music made by the ex-twee tween of a million eight year old girls’ lunch boxes, but only because for the most part the album blends into one electro-psychedelic dirge, not bad in itself but increasingly tedious over the course of an hour and a half. In abandoning her past, Cyrus also hastily abandons the pop hooks that made her last album so interesting.
There are, however, notable exceptions, and ‘Space Boots’ is the most glorious of them.
It represents a best-case scenario of Cyrus’ collaboration with the Flaming Lips. Their pop psychedelia combining with the Miley’s teenage slacker emotions, sanding off the pretentious edges of the Lips sound whilst they remove the obnoxiousness that many find so off-putting from Miley. It ranks amongst the best work of both, amongst ‘Do You Realize?’, ‘Race For the Prize’, ‘Fly on the Wall’ (yes, really. It’s a tune) and ‘Wrecking Ball’.