FLOWER POWER Miley Cyrus' new album is more than just publicity, it's fantastic.
Credit: Tyrone Lebon

Ever wonder what the grinning naked women in Robin Thicke’s ”Blurred Lines” video were thinking? Miley Cyrus might’ve solved that riddle with ”#GETITRIGHT” — created, as it happens, by ”Blurred Lines” mastermind Pharrell Williams. Over scratchy funk guitar that evokes Daft Punk’s ”Get Lucky,” the 20-year-old describes a heightened state of nude (or nudelike) being to an absent lover: ”Would you believe I’m dancing in the mirror?/I feel like I got no panties on/I wish that I could feel ya/Now hurry, hang up that damn phone!”

The song’s every bit as immodest as you’d expect from a young lady who recently spawned a craze for swinging unattired on public pendulums. It also establishes who gives the orders in Mileyland — and who lays claim to the spoils: ”I got things I wanna do to you,” she declares, after she’s already recounted an orgasm. Bangerz, executive-produced by shrewd Atlanta beatmaker Mike Will Made It, is the onetime Disney star’s fourth studio album, but her first as the master of her own destiny and — with the two lead singles already landing at No. 2 and No. 1 — a pacesetter in music. It’s also utterly fresh, a pop blitz from a hip-hop blueprint, and proof that Miley won’t settle for just shocking us.

In fact, she wants us to know her heart. A couplet like ”We were meant to be/In holy matrimony” could sink the hardiest song, but she coolly carries it off in ”Adore You,” a pretty, goop-free ballad that flaunts a key facet of her versatile voice: the throaty diva swoon. The M-word pops up all over Bangerz, most notably in ”Drive,” a sad-Kanye-esque track that Miley has said she started last Valentine’s Day, after first grazing the rocks with now ex-fiancé Liam Hemsworth. But she rebounds quickly: Immediately following the self-explanatory ”FU,” which folds starry Adele-style sass and a French Montana verse into expertly inlaid dubstep wub-wubs, comes ”Do My Thang,” a ripping dance track in which a rapping Miley issues a general warning to ”stay in your lane.”

Yes, Miley raps. And if you can’t stand Ke$ha, you probably won’t take to Cyrus’ skills, either. Her confidante Britney Spears rhymes too, on ”SMS (Bangerz)”: ”They ask me how I keep a man/I keep a battery pack!” But it’s all in Cyrus’ toolbox, along with everything from mutated honky-tonk (the winningly nutty Pharrell production ”4×4,” with Nelly) to shameless frat-party-starting (”Love Money Party,” featuring Big Sean paying tribute to red Solo cups). She’s not only game for ”My Darlin’,” a trippy duet with Auto-Tune artiste Future, she makes it a genuine weeper. And when she’s handed conventional EDM club bait such as ”Someone Else,” she calls up her chops and throws into relief just how meek typical DJ bros like their hook girls.

Miley’s not one to use her guests as ornamentation — she needs them to turn her pop pedigree inside out. Wherever her passions alighted in the past, she’s obviously infatuated right now with hip-hop and its perpetual drive for new and exotic sounds. Bangerz may be about breaking up and wilding out, but it also agitates for the future. When she sings, ”Been wondering where you been all my life,” in ”Adore You,” she might as well be addressing her own reinvented self. A-

Best Tracks
”SMS (BANGERZ)” – A merry rap-off with Britney
”My Darlin”’ – A woozy ballad

Stream Bangerz online here

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