Miley Cyrus pulled off a neat trick Sunday night while closing the MTV VMAs. After hosting the show, having a wardrobe malfunction, getting called out by Nicki Minaj, and performing an eye-popping closing number with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips—he shot cannons off between her legs—she announced their collaborative album, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, was now available online, for free. Imagine the Internet’s delight.
After just a day to digest Dead Petz, EW took a crack at finding the most outrageous moments in the album’s whopping 23 tracks. Here are our immediate reactions.
Sans VMAs spectacle, opener “Dooo It!” pops.
Cyrus pulled out all the stops for her show-closing performance, including a crew of technicolor-clad drag queens and characteristically crazy Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne—but the track itself felt unrehearsed. Not so on the studio version, which blends the singer’s previous aesthetic with Flaming Lips weirdness. Plus, there’s Miley mission statement: “Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace / But I don’t give a f–k, I ain’t no hippy.”
Turns out “Dooo It!” was a bit of a red herring.
As weirdly crazy as the album’s opening cut is, it gives way to a sequence of acoustic driven ballads: “Karen Don’t Be Sad,” “The Floyd Song (Sunrise),” and “Something About Space Dude” all sound like they were retrieved from the cutting room floor of the Lips’ classic 2002 LP Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and revamped with Cyrus’ vocals.
The confessional spoken verses on “BB Talk.”
Cyrus’ new album ranges from barely lyrical at all (the 50-second track before “BB Talk” is called “F–kin F–ked Up” and goes about as you’d expect) to vividly detailed and emotional. An early peak on the album—besides “The Floyd Song (Sunrise),” which is an ode to her late dog—is “BB Talk,” which includes three stream of conscious verses that touch on PDA, “cutesy sh-t,” and queen emojis. “All of a sudden you started with some f–king baby goo-goo tongue down my fucking throat,” Cyrus explains. “I mean, even in front of your mom. Dude, as if I’m not f–king awkward enough.”
The bedroom jam “Bang Me Box” is as wildly fun and dirty as you’d hope.
Shimmering guitars and a slinky bass line underscore Cyrus’ sexual tales on the mid-album highlight “Bang Me Box.” Cyrus assures listeners, “There ain’t nothing I’m scared to try.” She invites her lover to come into her room as she sleeps naked and compares lovemaking to “a zookeeper setting animals free.” Don’t play this one around the kids.
An unlikely dream team makes “Slab of Butter (Scorpion)” great.
Cyrus and Coyne recruited producer Mike WiLL Made It for a number of the album’s tracks, and on “Slab of Butter (Scorpion)” Phantogram singer Sarah Barthel also gets in on the fun. The end result is a strange but enticing blend of funk groove, ethereal dream-pop, and EDM mania. Cyrus and Barthel slay their vocals, somehow turning “I feel like a slab of butter that is melting in the sun” into a lovesick rallying cry.
“You’re lucky I’m doing my yoga or you might be dead.”
With its gooey, swirling production—is that a spaceship we hear cruising in the background?—”I Forgive Yiew” is a pop-rock gem. And that’s before it slides into this kicker that’ll be emblazoned on water bottles in no time.
Maximal strength in minimal production.
Miley’s lower register power is what makes her voice great, but she’s often over-produced on her biggest pop tracks. That makes the sparse “I Get So Scared” a song in which where her instrument has room to crack and shine in unreliable glory.
Hearing Sean’s flow on “Tangerine” is a nice reminder of what a smooth and smart lyricist the rapper actually is.
An ode to Pablow, her dead blowfish.
Cyrus released “Pablow The Blowfish,” about her dead blowfish, back in May, and it’s still got room to pull at the heartstrings with earnest lyrics like, “Pablow the Blowfish I miss you so bad/ On Saturday night we all went out to eat, but I can never decide so someone chose sushi/ I got soup and I ordered rice, but watching my friends eat my friend ruined my appetite.”
Miley goes primal, for an entire track.
“Miley Tibetan Bowlzzz” has no lyrics, just atmospheric moans. They’re gentle, and you’ll like them if you can get past the oddity of Cyrus’ purring.
The curtain call.
“Twinkle Song” ends the album, and it’s as colorful a trip as the full album. Each stanza begins with “I had a dream” before delving into stories of David Bowie skateboarding, singing a lover to sleep, robbing a record store, before wondering “what does it mean?” Miley lets loose, allowing her voice to rip with desperation.
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