On a new six-song EP, Miley Cyrus tells us in less than twenty minutes that she’s learned nothing new in the last few years. Commitments like marriage often spark a creative rush in young artists (see Kacey Musgraves), and a misstep like her gaffe in spring of 2017 criticizing the entire genre of hip-hip — from which she still happily borrows whenever it serves her — can sometimes lead to introspection, correction, and deeper understanding. But, sadly, and I write this as a bonafide Miley fan (I liked Dead Petz!), that is not the case on She Is Coming, just as it was not for her last full-length, the middling Younger Now.
Cyrus’ new EP is a scattershot collection of songs that tout mindless partying, drugs, and gesture weakly at sexual freedom by awkwardly deploying raunchiness. Even stranger, “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” one of the best songs she’s released in years, isn’t included here. Sure, it’s an early single for Mark Ronson’s own solo project, but it isn’t unheard of for artists to split custody or share a successful joint single to help bolster one party’s otherwise floundering career.
What’s worse, no one in Miley’s camp seems to have advised her that the song’s retro country, ’70s rock, and dancefloor mashup is a sweet spot, not only for Miley’s vocal range, but for her audience, aesthetic, and attitude. Nothing on her new EP leans into a style that was just proven successful with a dance chart hit, which is, in turn, further proof of her own lack of self-awareness about where she fits.
Within the first ten seconds of the opener, “Mother’s Daughter,” Miley Cyrus has compared her sexual desire to a piranha, and unfortunately, it doesn’t get better from there. And though “Mother’s Daughter” is a gesture toward a maternal connection, aside from the assertion that she’ll “make it,” we don’t get much information about how the pair are connected. A final ad-lib of “swish swish, motherf*cker” seems to be a reference to Katy Perry’s failed to single of the same name, and honestly, these two songs belong in the same pile of cobbled together pop castoffs.
While anthems of hedonism like “Unholy” feel rightly justified from those experiencing the crushing anxiety and helplessness of being in marginalized in America, Cyrus’ is devoid of either a reason to drown out the outside world, or the flush of joy that sparks partying for pleasure that her classic, “Party In The USA” best encapsulates. And after trashing hip-hop just two years ago, Miley is back on the wagon for “D.R.E.A.M.,” featuring none other than Wu-Tang legend Ghostface Killah, who plenty of her fans probably don’t know the significance of, but on repeated listens this song does have some sparkling, late-night appeal.
After four months of listening to the glistening Thank U, Next tracks properly blend the impulses of pop and hip-hop, it’s a bummer to hear something so jagged make its way to release. Yet, you have to give Cyrus credit for understanding the pop-meets-rap ethos is potentially the wave of the future for young female stars like her and Ari, and perhaps if she spent a bit more time refining it, her instincts here would eventually pull through.