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Peanut gallerists ready to love or hate Miley Cyrus’s fourth studio album – her first as the VMA-owning, Sinéad-riling, hip-hop darling we’ve come to know – will be disappointed. The capital-P pop star backs up her I-just-don’t-give-a-fuck persona with killer singing and decent songwriting, but keeps us waiting for a banger that never comes.
Opener Adore You is pretty, but way too slow and plodding to kick off a project thusly named. Elsewhere, Cyrus dips into country and dubstep as well as a valiant if ineffectual foray into trap (Do My Thang). Throughout, pulsing, purring synths abound.
Obvious highlights are the generically catchy Wrecking Ball (penned by Canadan hitmaker Stephan Moccio), the gloriously YOLO We Can’t Stop and the Nashville-leaning ballad Maybe You’re Right. On an OVO-worthy roster of guest rappers, Nelly’s verse on 4×4 nails the mark (daughter, like dad, is fantastic at progressive country).
Lyrically, nothing matches her foam-finger controversy, though the Pharrell-written and produced #Getitright has a “thirsty” Cyrus playing sex kitten over the album’s catchiest, whistle-laden beat. The weakest link is the title track. Cyrus proves she can do myriad things with her low, raw, versatile and frankly bad-ass voice, but channelling Ke$ha isn’t one of her better moves.
Top track: We Can’t Stop