Honest Reviews: a listening session in which reviews are recorded in the moment.
Considering her mission to be as rambunctious and capricious as ever in the spotlight, I didn’t know what the hell to expect on Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz album. Was I nervous? No. I always liked her voice so I actually had high hopes for the songs being good, especially with the release of “Wrecking Ball”. However, it was easy to push any negativity aside as I caught myself willing to push play and let it rip. Here’s what I thought of it:
1. “Adore You”
Surprisingly, Miley chose a ballad to open Bangerz with. A sincere love paean to whomever it is that has captured her heart in their hands, Miley sounds like she couldn’t be any higher, and for at once this year, not courtesy of narcotics. It’s the younger sister to Beyonce’s overwhelming “1+1” in while Bey sounded like she needed some serious therapy, Miley remains coherent to take this love where it belongs.
2. “We Can’t Stop”
Despite her VMAs performance almost ruining this guilty pleasure for me, “We Can’t Stop” still has so much energy to it. It’s an interesting pop record with its baselines of slightly grazed electro dub. I always found this song to be evocative of how people MIley’s age feel (she was born 1992). It’s their national anthem of letting the good times roll because in this day and age, is that all you’ve really got to lose?
3. “SMS” featuring Britney Spears
Oh God. Here we go. The track with Britney Spears, whom since her 15 years in the game career, doesn’t do many album cameos. By today’s standards, it’s classically EDM meets hip-hop, with a robot doing the chorus, and I’m just waiting for Brit Brit. Oooooo, her voice sounds good! Granted she’s doing a borderline spoken word, but it’s slamming here. The kids will love it, and that’s really been the only thing that matters since Cyrus chose to shed her Disney past like an ill-fitted tee.
4. “”4×4” featuring Nelly
This track has a country thing going on that anticipates with a trembling need to explode with pop beats. Nelly’s feature feels natural as he surely brings his St. Louie twang for this unexpected square dance.
5. “My Darlin'” featuring Future
As Future’s auto-tuned singing finds its way unto a Miley track, he’s again the lovey-dovey thug declaring his need to be told and shown he’s needed. He’s done this before, and a lot better, for Rihanna’s Unapologetic for the fantastic “Loveeeeeeee Song”. This isn’t bad for Miley, but with the addition of Future, it seems like a cheapened sequel.
6. “Wrecking Ball”
This was a welcomed treat after the raucous of “We Can’t Stop”, as the LP’s second single. Its track like these that reminds listeners that despite her unnecessary antics for attention, there is talent in her vocals, and this could be swan song for her right now. Miley and her team were smart to release this as a kind of saving grace. The bridge is also alluringly dreamy.
7. “Love Money Party” featuring Big Sean
Right back to the scheduled program of The World According a Newly Discovered Ratchet Miley, this track is a throw away you can do without. You’ll be better off listening to “SMS”, and oddly seems like a remake/remix of French Montana’s “Ain’t Worried About Nothin'”. Miley and Big Sean make a good duo though. It’s not the worse of her party jams, but again, just go back to “SMS”.
Oh. Someone is getting there Teena Marie on. Miley’s vocals are nearly velvet here, and while the lyrics, that are a tad sexual, almost distract, this is major win in displaying her considerable talent. The country vibes are back big time, and this is a Southern ode to good times and good lovin’. The random breathing talk does make you shiver a bit ’cause Miley wants to go there. She actually sings “I feel like I got no panties on…”. Hmmmm….
Thundering beats, like it’s about to an EDM storm, commence as Miley is torn between driving all night like Cyndi Lauper to get to him, or telling him to buzz the hell off. All in all, it’s one of the best tracks on the album, and different sound for Mike Will Made It who should explore more of these spacey trembles.
10. “FU” featuring French Montana
Miley is now taking a turn for arena rock, and she’s become the female reincarnation of Garth Brooks. A kind of audible adaptation of Western and suspenseful flicks of the Turner Classic Movies realm, she’s sings like a woman scorned and on a mission to redeem herself and venerable reputation through a little promised voodoo. French Montana’s cameo is probably the most creative moment of his rap discography.
11. “Do My Thang”
What she shouldv’e sang on SNL following the weeks of scrutiny since the VMAs and her bawdy photo shoot with Terry Richardson, she’s declaring herself a proud Southern belle with an edge. The declaration is convincing and fitting.
12. “Maybe You’re Right”
The title alone gives this song a hype that you hope it lives up to. What are they possibly right about? I quickly find out she’s referring to her elders, critics, whomever that has judged her and “thinks she’s crazy. Lost, and foolish…” Done in a dramatic ballad form, she seems to be exploring her inner Carrie Underwood, and all of sudden you wish Cyrus would just cut the bullshit and cut a country album already.
13. “Someone Else”
By the end, how is it that Miley, who has been promoting this hood-booger way of life in the media, has released an album that nearly represents the opposite? Again, she’s really singing her heart out and seems so in love and attuned to these short tales of determination and hanging on to self-love even if by a thread, she’s a champion of a hard-headed generation that are too smart and dumb at the same time for their own good. “Someone Else” is another honestly superb track for the young singer that by the end has her listing a boatload of what of love is, and it’ll make one want to get a pen and pad because she’s become a pop music Dalai Lama for the 21 and under set.
EXTRAS (The Bonus Tracks):
“Rooting for My Baby” would make Annie Lennox less concerned of Miley’s direction artistically, as it has an indie rock smoothness that recalls the calmness of Stereophonics “Maybe Tomorrow”; “On My Own” is an ’80s reverie of girl talk that celebrates independence; and “Hands in the AIr” featuring Ludacris is a good closer that wraps up her newfound freedom to “just being Miley” for this era of #BANGERZ.