Review Summary: Like a large, well-decorated and gift-wrapped box that contains a single pair of (used) underwear.
It’s not everyday when a famous pop star releases an extended-player, especially when it’s coming from an artist who most likely have never even heard of an EP until her record company decided to release this. Never remaining out of the public spotlight for longer than an Entertainment Tonight special, adolescent sensation Miley Cyrus makes yet another bid for America’s youth with The Time of Our Lives, her first EP, and just a little over a year after her smash effort Breakout. Such is the magic of the Disney marketing machine.
Not much has changed since we last left Ms. Cyrus – her vocals remain a throaty, out-of-their-league rasp, her teenage spunk and punk-lite ‘tude seem to be intact, and her penchant for bumping out the most sugary choruses in the business is quite evident. Unless it’s an attempt to promote her new and improved pole-dancing skills, The Time of Our Lives is indeed a rather odd release, seven songs that surely could’ve waited for her next proper album.
Then again, perhaps I give Miley and her handlers too little credit. For all intents and purposes, The Time of Our Lives is a flowery vehicle for her newest single, “Party In The U.S.A.” Like a large, well-decorated and gift-wrapped box that contains a single pair of underwear (or, worse, a Jonas Brothers single), The Time of Our Lives is, quite simply, one of Miley’s best songs surrounded by the drudge and filler most have come to expect from a single-oriented teeny-bopper market.
And “Party In The U.S.A.” is, in fact, quite the song, despite the horrendous publicity surrounding it from Cyrus’ Teen Choice Awards stunt and the song’s juvenile lyrics. I understand she’s only sixteen, but “everybody’s lookin’ at me now / like ‘who’s that chick that’s rockin’ kicks"’ / she gotta be from out of town” would make Taylor Swift cringe. Other than that, though, the song is pure Top 40 bliss. A shiny, clean guitar line kicks things off before the synths buzz in furiously in a lilting chorus that will refuse to leave your head. Disposable trash, sure, but it’s almost a physical imperative to bounce along to lines like “noddin’ my head like yeah / movin’ my hips like yeah.”
And unless you’re a diehard Miley fan or the unfortunate sibling of one, there’s absolutely nothing here to hold your attention any longer. Opener “Kicking and Screaming” is a lame attempt to be fierce, with Cyrus doing her best/worst Aguilera imitation, while a song like “Talk Is Cheap” could be tolerable were it not for the irritating “ay-ay-ay-awhoo-awhoo” intro and Cyrus’ screeching performance. Neither song, however, holds a candle to the two ballads here, “When I Look At You” and “Obsessed,” two interchangeable, overproduced productions that are about as subtle as a battleaxe to the head. Sweeping strings, drawn-out guitar solos, crashing cymbals and multi-part harmonies – we get it, Miley! You are desperately, desperately struggling with unrequited love!
Besides the dime-a-dozen carpe diem anthem “The Time of Our Life,” there’s nothing else of note here, unless you count a live recording of the Cyrus’ duet with the Jonas Brothers’ “Before The Storm” a bonus. The decision to release this EP rather than push “Party In The U.S.A.” as a standalone single is, frankly, inexplicable. Regardless of whether it’s a preview of a forthcoming Cyrus album or merely a bit of a fiscal boost to Disney’s third-quarter profits, it’s lack of depth or creativity only cements it as another lame cash-in, right up there with the Hannah Montana movie, the Jonas brothers’ TV show, and Billy Ray Cyrus’ entire post-music career.