Bangerz

Way to kill it, Milez. Your VMA performance put the Internet in traction, enraging liberals with its dicey racial burlesque and scandalizing conservatives with its twerking-toward-Bethlehem decadence. You've taken raging-bull control of your sexuality, even if it has often looked like LBJ taking control of our policy in Vietnam. And now you've sealed the deal with the Rihanna-meets-Gaga-meets-Pink-meets-Britney party grenade of a record your special moment merits.

Bangerz is the sound of Hannah Montana gone Miami Vice. "You think I'm strange, bitch?/Shit's bananas like a fuckin' 'rangutan, bitch," she rhymes in a sketchy hip-hop drawl on "Do My Thang." It's strange but it's also traditional: Her Disney-steeped voice never takes a back seat to the wide-ranging production (from the likes of Pharrell, Will.i.am and Dr. Luke), and Billy Ray's daughter rocks a country vocal during several tracks. Some skeptics – let's call them haters – might argue that Cyrus isn't wholly comfortable in her new dirty/crazy persona. But that's part of the strange charm: "We Can't Stop" undercuts wild-child woo-hoo with dark, uneasy sonic textures, and ballad crushers like "Wrecking Ball" ride the hunger and confusion that make great coming-of-age pop. "I just started living," she sings on the starkly beautiful album opener, "Adore You." There's as much terror as power in that realization. That's what makes it stick.

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