It’s not very often that we get a truly weird and weirdly fruitful experimental meeting of totally disparate minds, like when a former Disney teen drops a buttload of LSD and becomes – for one night only! – the lead singer of a veteran psychedelic band. Lots of Disney teen queens have fallen on drug-fueled times, and it’s usually an ugly cautionary tale. Miley Cyrus, it turns out, actually does her best work with unicorn cum all over her face. Never in a million years would anyone have predicted that chipmunk-faced Hannah Montana would make one of the best records of the decade, as an honorary Flaming Lip, no less. She jumped straight into her Sarah Lynn phase; it looked like it would be all gratuitous sexuality, blunts, bad tattoos and maybe an early death, but damn, she found whatever inner door it is that allowed her to be a creator rather than just a performer. Good for her.
Miley Cyrus has grown out her hair, stopped wagging her tongue at everybody and no longer looks like she makes her living selling drugs at Burning Man. So it would appear that the psychedelic weirdness was a phase, although it’s possible she may have a big divorce relapse. Oh well, at least we’ll always have Miley & her Dead Petz, a real keeper of a contribution to the musical scene of 2015. Dead Petz, of course, refers to collaborators like Flaming Lips, people for whom psychedelic weirdness is a lifelong calling. I’ve always held that if those guys decided that Miley Cyrus was cool to make an album with, then she must be a pretty cool chick. So best of luck to her and hope she doesn’t normie out too hard.
I never thought I’d be converted to Miley Cyrus. She’s a former Disney Channel teen idol, fer fuck’s sake! She’s made some excruciatingly bad pop music, and the less said the better regarding her twerking phase. But then she made an album with Flaming Lips, and it was stunning. It seems like this girl has a lot more going on than her various pop star antics have let on. She clearly likes drugs a lot, which is not necessarily always a plus for making good music, but in this case, yes, it’s a plus for making good music. The Flaming Lips’ psychedelic aesthetic is all over this album, of course, but it’s impossible to dismiss it as just a Flaming Lips record with a different vocalist. It is, unmistakably, a very personal record, filled with stream-of-consciousness lyrics, observations and recalled dreams. Will Miley Cyrus do anything as good ever again? Most likely not, but I’ll give her a chance.
Well, well, well, we never thought that this day would come, did we? Miley Cyrus is supposed to be everything that’s wrong with pop music today. You know the type: constantly half-naked celebrity offspring with problematic delusions of hipness and not much musical talent. And yeah, little Miley is naked more often than not, she has some pretty serious cultural appropriation issues, and her music has been mostly garbage. Who’d have thunk that she’d redeem herself? But then she started hanging out with Flaming Lips, and if Wayne Coyne thinks she’s cool beans, she must have something going on. Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is the weird mashup that should, by all rights, have been an abomination in the eyes of God – but isn’t. It’s like a Flaming Lips album, but not, basically. It’s like a musical Instagram feed; a disjointed series of glimpses into the disjointed mind of a 23 year old who likes to party, struggles with relationships, loves her pets and writes in her dream journal every day. And, as with social media, not every moment is necessarily publication worthy by traditional standards, but it’s honest and intensely felt. It turns out that Miley Cyrus is a musical artist with her own aesthetic and things to say, apparently. That’s a pretty surprising turn of events for a pop star who came fully groomed and chipmunk-cheeked off of the Walt Disney assembly line. Who knows if this is a fluke or if Miley is going to grow into an accomplished artist someday, but at the very least, and for better or for worse, she’s a very modern girl.