There is quite a temptation to invent a new language to convey the sheer awfulness of MIley Cyrus. Surely the upstart pop tart is so screamingly now!!!! that we need a new lingua franca, perhaps in the form of a series of twerks and tweets to communicate just how radical the southern belle gone bad really is.
How about we all take to semaphore or use smoke signals? Point out shapes in the clouds . . . ?
Bangerz is Miley’s fourth album and it comes hot on the heels of her tawdry spat with mother superior, Sinéad O’Connor. Their exchange turned very nasty indeed when a misguided Cyrus escalated and took to tweeting cruel taunts involving a third party and mental health issues.
A bit more serious than besmirching the good name of the foam finger and twerking on live TV then and to that end, Bangerz is merely another staging post on Miley’s voyage of self-discovery -from Disney debutante to House of Mouse graduate who roared. However, like Gaga’s recent output, far too many of the songs here sound like they are mere afterthoughts cooked up in support of a marketing campaign.
Miley has already shown the world that she is not the shiniest CD in the pile, hardly a prerequisite in pop music, and if anything she has proved once again that getting nekkid is no substitute for actually writing decent songs. And Bangerz contains a lot of musical nip slips. Opening song Adore You does have something quite gentle and touching about it as the gal from Nashville picks over her breakup with actor Liam Hemsworth but this is a defiant party album.
She does return to matters of her achy breaky heart on several songs and the musical sins of the father do not have to be passed on in this case – Miley is young and dumb enough to commit plenty of her own especially when there is folk to try and shock and, more importantly, when her career is at stake.
Take SMS; it's a hyperventilating rave-up that shamelessly pilfers from Salt-N-Pepa's Push It and which features Britney Spears, a fellow ex-Disney kid who is the very pinnacle of class and elegance compared to Cyrus.
Or 4X4 in which we are informed that Miley is driving so fast that she has to urinate on herself. Try Do My Thang, another club banger co-produced by pop’s chief detergent manufacturer will.i.am, or My Darlin’ which samples Ben E King’s Stand By Me complete with churchy gravitas but with precious little of the soul or passion.
When Cyrus does get it right, there are signs of something (anything!) other than the piteous shock tactics and attempts at meaningful grown-up balladry. The single Wrecking Ball, the one in which she molests a sledgehammer in the video, is actually not a bad song and it is clearly a stab at recording something as brilliant as Christina Perri's Jar of Hearts. The Pharrell Williams produced #Getitright is a perky little pop jam and FU presses the button marked Adele/Amy Winehouse on the mixing desk to good effect.
However, all that hardly adds up to a strong album. Miley’s voice is serviceable throughout, a helium yelp that her former employer Mr Mouse might approve of but when she tries to sex it up, she over sings and exaggerates her southern drawl to comic effect.
In the end, Bangerz is mostly a charmless and sexless barrage of silly innuendo and forgettable pop schlock. It's the musical equivalent of being flashed at in the frozen food section of Lidl.