Album review: Miley Cyrus – SHE IS COMING

John Preston

South London based music obsessive with strong opinions about most things. Doubts Madonna has another good record in her but would love more than anything to be proved wrong.
John Preston

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It seems hard for many to actually listen to a Miley Cyrus record. Everything else is up for grabs: accusations of cultural appropriation, white privilege, slut shaming and media whoring to name a few. These views seem so strong that the music itself becomes insignificant or even repellent to some.

Cyrus is not an anomaly, however. For many she is the ultimate poster girl, truly deserving of the skewed hatred consistently levelled at her. She is also an engaging, charismatic and often widely possessed performer with a voice that can capture conflicted and nuanced emotions in a way that her peers can sometimes struggle to.

On an album full of female vocalists singing sad love songs it is, for example, Cyrus that stands out on Mark Ronson’s sheeny-shiny Late Njght Feelings album with her devastating and captivating performance on ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’.

SHE IS COMING is the first of three EPs that Cyrus is releasing. These three EPs will conclude with a full album consisting of a selection from the 18 EP tracks – a trick must successfully piloted by Robyn way back in 2010 with her Body Talk. It seems as though Cyrus’ hopscotching dalliances through multiple musical genres has led to a more cautious approach following the almighty flop of return to pop-country on 2017’s Younger Now.

SHE IS COMING is far more in-keeping and a return to the trap and hip-hop references of her massive re-invention album Bangerz. The ludicrous and filthy electro-rap ‘Cattitude’ – which features Rupaul at his filthiest – is a track that many will gleefully pull apart, but replace Cyrus with Gaga – another artist who has borrowed from many a culture but who attracts endless goodwill – and the reaction would be quite different.

The remaining five tracks are of a very different mood, where frivolity is swapped for sadness and a frequent self-loathing.

‘Party up the Street’ suggests a banger but is instead evocative and eerily wistful. ‘Unholy’ and ‘D.R.E.A.M’ are shame anthems and ‘The Most’ reunites Cyrus with Mark Ronson for a retread of their cry-me-a-river country.

They capture a thoughtful and genuinely melancholy aspect of Cyrus which has always been there, one that sets her apart from Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and the rest. What with a successful performance at Glastonbury, the imminent new Charlie Angels song with Lana Del Rey and Arianna Grande, and Cyrus’ Black Mirror persona Ashley O, it is full on exposure for the Southern tearaway.

She certainly continues to be divisive and purposefully provocative on SHE IS COMING. Her grandstanding works partly because there are couple of very good songs here, but it’s Miley Cyrus herself that is consistently the main reason for its intrigue.

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