Rife with glitter visuals, accompanied by a brief tour called the Milky Milky Milk Tour, and produced by The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz marks Miley Cyrus’s break from Disney and her break from breaking from Disney.
The album followed Bangerz, the album that added Cyrus’s name to the “Former Childhood Stars Gone Wild” Hall of Fame, right up alongside Macaulay Culkin et al. Critics and the public alike went ham on Cyrus during her Bangerz era; no one took her seriously because of her past, and, at the same time, refused to take the album with a grain of salt, instead opting to slutshame and write off the “new” Miley Cyrus.
With Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, however, Cyrus broke free of the critics. To start with, she initially released the album independently, and made it available for free online streaming. Cyrus also took many creative liberties, and followed Ke$ha’s footsteps in making the bold choice to work with The Flaming Lips. Her Dead Petz was not a part of Cyrus’s multi-album recording contract with RCA, and it isn’t hard to tell… in the best way possible. There are funkier sounds, bizarre song titles, low budget music videos, and, above all, Miley Cyrus’s distinct, gravel-y voice, as powerful and suggestive as ever.
The album starts off strong and hard with “Dooo It!,” followed by a sickly sweet ballad, then “The Floyd Song (Sunrise),” where the production of The Flaming Lips is most obvious—it practically sounds like a Miley Cyrus cover of a Flaming Lips song. The rest of the album seems to follow suit—many of the songs are sweet ballads with maximal production, while others are high-energy minute-long bangers.
Commercially, the album being 1.5 hours may have seemed a poor choice. For superfans, however, it is simply 1.5 more hours of Miley Cyrus being her best, weirdest, most authentic self. The length makes you feel that the album may have been better split into two separate albums, or maybe a Side A and Side B, but the work as a whole is just cohesive enough to make that impossible. This album stands apart from both Cyrus’s own discography, as well as the discography of countless other pop stars.
In the world of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, it’s not “I Forgive You,” it’s “I Forgive Yiew;” love songs are written for blowfish (re: “Dead Petz”), which, surprisingly enough, are not metaphors; there’s “Something About Space Dude” and “Evil is but A Shadow.” No “era” accompanied this album; an entire universe did, instead. This universe is capricious; it’s self aware; it’s gutsy and impulsive; it’s perfectly whimsical. Anything can happen during that hour-and-32-minute dreamlike state of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.
It’s been hard for Miley Cyrus to break free from the long, creepy, withered hands of Disney. Even her attempt with Bangerz just associated her with Disney kids that went wild, instead of artists that expressed themselves through their music, hair and music videos. With Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, however, Miley Cyrus, at least for a little while, reminded people that she was an artist, a collaborator, and an artist for the people. The shock value is gone; nothing but creative integrity remains.
Written by Elizabeth Soliman