On her fourth album, singer and would-be provocateur Miley Cyrus stakes out new territory.
The former Disney kid’s desire to be a provocative pop star is better expressed by her confident and husky voice than by lurid and predictable attention-seeking behaviour.
Old fans of Hannah Montana have a right to feel dispossessed. Positive material like The Climb or Party in the USA doesn’t appear on her fourth album, Bangerz. Cyrus uses the recording to get her rap chops in on the album’s mix of hip hop, modern country and pop rock.
Power ballads are strong in performance and delivery and they’re modified with an electronic hip hop undercurrent.
The title cut is a weak track despite Britney Spears’ appearance, or maybe because of it. It’s all thin voices and sound-effected information. There’s not much tune; it’s filler that tries to be bad.
4X4 is a rebel stomp, Miley style. After this mischievous song, more big ballads are in order. That’s smart, as her slightly raspy voice sits well in that style.
Wrecking Ball is the most ambitious song of the lot and is easily the best performance of the album. It’s got a modern country influence which Cyrus adorns with an emotionally over-extended vocal performance.
Her hip hop/rap excursions are technically on, but the content and conviction appear contrived. Love Money Party is a robotic and flat example. Some of this is due to the kitchen sink production esthetic of Cyrus’ team of studio gurus.
Drive, another hip hop/country-rock ballad, makes effective use of the big beats and samples to achieve a melodramatic atmosphere. FU (featuring French Montana) is more of this original sounding hybrid with Cyrus coming across like an amped-up Nancy Sinatra. Its snotty title doesn’t take away from a solid performance.
After all the media frenzy surrounding Cyrus, it’s obvious she was looking for an image change. It’s also clear that all that was unnecessary. The album is enough proof to signal a style shift.
— Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who writes about new releases for The Morning Star every Friday.