Review Summary: ‘Dead Petz’ is a glimpse into the inner fragments of a broken mind.
“They're just a bunch of fools, and you can make them powerless, don't let them make the rules.”
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word martyr as "a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle.”
The problem with this vague definition is that anyone can believe that they are a martyr depending on their principle. This definition would allow someone to believe that they can be a martyr for higher workplace quality by quitting their job because their cubicle’s a bit small for their tastes.
But where would the fault lie in the situation" Can we blame someone for having such a limited perspective of humankind, when no one requires them to be aware of the other worlds that are to be explored"
And where would the child star fall into the martyrdom narrative" Can we blame the parents for wanting the best for their children" Can we blame the kids for thinking that the best comprises fame, money, and attention, when that’s what’s drilled into their brains"
August 30th, 2015 is the day that Miley Cyrus went from trademark industry psycho to walking punchline in less than ten seconds. The jury is still out on whether Nicki Minaj managed to singlehandedly destroy her career in three words, or if Miley ruined herself through her antics. Alas, it’s a futile question for now - it’s way to soon to make a final verdict on the extent to which Miley has fallen, and the forces that allowed this to happen. However, her cult following is slowly amassing, currently consisting of drag queens, that one Hannah Montana diehard (probably), and a handful of marginalized youth.
What is certain, is that Cyrus’ descent has been a long time coming. Positioning herself as an out-of-the-box former child star on 2013’s ‘Bangerz' was a risky move that sparked the question “where can she go from here"”
It seems that the answer to that question for her was to become a face for the misfits of the world. Cyrus’ 2015 press tour has completely been about equating criticism to hatred, and advocating for not caring what anyone says regardless of validity. Admittedly, she’s been doing great work for LGBTQ rights and deconstructing the gender binary. That being said, no one forced her to become a pseudo-racist. No one forced her to be the spokesmodel for glitter glue. No one forced her to do over ten outfit changes in 2 hours at the VMAs in order to "express her identity." RCA certainly didn’t force her to release a free album.
It’s hard to wonder why she felt compelled to do these things and whether or not they are as liberating as she makes it seem. One thing’s for certain. It’s sad to see her pass it off as being misunderstood when she’s only making it harder for herself.
But that’s the way it is for anyone who falls into a downward spiral, isn’t it" At the end of the day, people need to realize that they’re the only one who can get themselves out of a mess regardless of how much others try.
‘Dead Petz’ is a look into Miley Cyrus, still at the stage of blaming others in her guerrilla attack against herself. To Miley, it may be an attempt to get people to understand. It may be an attempt at getting others to “open their perspective."
But what else would we expect from someone who was raised learning that attention is a fundamental necessity of life" Miley Cyrus’ new crusade for stardom is to become a martyr for the misfits of the world, sacrificing commercial success to send a message to everyone like the greats before her.
“Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace, but I don’t give a ***, I ain’t no hippie,” Cyrus chants on opening track “Dooo it.” It’s the truer, grittier version of “We Can’t Stop,” with its lack of polish, unfinished production, and odd harmonizing. Instead of hinting at her lifestyle, Cyrus is blunt and blatant. The song, along with its performance and video at the VMAs paint the picture of a Cyrus that seems absolutely liberated from her confines.
All of a sudden, we come to realize that she does care. A lot. “Dooo it” is followed by the hangover that is “Karen Don’t Be Sad.” A 5 minute cathartic venting about sticking it to the man, the opus reveals a Cyrus that is deeply affected and hurt by being pushed around in the world. It’s the virtual opposite of its predecessor, and reveals why Cyrus feels the need to be outlandish and brash in her every day life: it’s a coping mechanism, because facing the actual issue is just way too hard. If she were brave enough to face her fears, would she be pinning all these feelings onto someone named Karen"
The plainly happy songs are absent here, because Miley isn’t feeling so hot nowadays despite the carefree front that she puts up. It’s a grey day in the world of Miley (“Cyrus Skies”). If she isn’t paying tribute to a dead pet ("The Floyd Song,” "Pablo the Blowfish”), she’s escaping from her current reality in space (“Something About Space Dude”). She’s damn aware of it too. “Space Boots” offers a glimpse into how she copes with heartbreak through drugs. “Sometimes now when I do drugs I’ll start to overthink, and I start crying, I think I’m dying, but I’m just tripping spiralling down this hole,” she declares softly. It’s a conflicting time in her life where she’s attempting to overcome adversity. She has the strength and the willpower to do so, but can’t grasp ways other than drugs and lashing out.
She even has the resources to create a fantasy world for herself. She’s got a guy who’s head over heels for her on “BB Talk,” but she can’t handle the intensity and PDA of the relationship as much as she’s tried, because she’s can’t trust or handle the affection in a world that’s deceived her so many times already.
Suddenly, as if she feels embarrassed for revealing far too much, she switches gears for a run of wholly inconsistent songs that seem less personal than the last few. For this reason, it would be inappropriate to herald ‘Dead Petz’ for its genre-bending. It’s not sonically interesting as much as it is excessive; a parallel symbol to her mind. The frenetic nature of the upcoming tracks paired with the banality of the lyrics reveal a strong willed Cyrus. It’s too painful to keep talking about her inner conflict, but she wants people to know, so she’s put it into the production instead of the words. A cute ballad about young love (“Fweaky”) is followed by a groovy bedroom jam (“Bang Me Box”) and the electronic spillings of “Milky Milky Milk.” Eventually, ‘Dead Petz’ devolves into a tedious listen, as if the first third of the album just never happened, and as if she’s just being weird because that’s just the fun person she is.
But come “Tangerine,” Big Sean seemingly kicks her into remembering that she is overcompensating by dropping a verse. The morning after the party, Big Sean states that he’s “looking in the mirror and [he’s] the only thing missing,” akin to the feelings of ambiguous sadness that Miley feeds after “Dooo It.” The verse is an honest reminder that Miley’s good run had to end, that she can’t hide from the truth, and that her sources of pleasure are temporary. She unravels into who she was at the start, lamenting the “fiery violent truth,” and fantasizing about distant shooting stars.
“Tiger Dreams” follows suit with terrifying suggestions and visuals. Miley almost encourages violence, straight up renounces religion, and graphically visualizes her death as people watch and laugh. The slow, spaced out production sounds almost sinister, with Ariel Pink’s “la la la”’s in the background helping. Paired with “Evil is But A Shadow,” it’s the silent battle cry that Cyrus has felt the need to declare for so long now, for some reason or another.
The standout pop moment of the album occurs on “1 Sun.” It’s a risky song in theory, but masterful in execution. As another musical contribution to the concept of the “carpe diem,” this one plays as a classic, Yoko Ono-style anthem that blatantly reminds us that Miley still has fight in her. It elongates the darkness that covers the ending stretch of the album, but puts everything that we just heard into perspective: Miley Cyrus isn’t in the greatest place right now, and her career’s at risk, and she’s spiraling, but she’s trying her best, she knows why she has to fight, and strives to tell others to do so as well.
The album ends on a more than appropriate note. “Twinkle Song” is a soaring ballad that paints a picture of her fantasy world escape and her confusion so well. She’s dreaming of being somewhere else, and maybe someone else. She’s crying out at the top of her lungs wondering what it all means, because through thick and thin, she has always cared about the meaning, or the reason to her life. The ending “*** yeah” reminds you that she’s got a fun spirit, and she’s not gonna let you get away with peace of mind or melancholy for that long, because that’s just who she is.
When you finish ‘Dead Petz,’ you do feel like you understand the enigma that is Miley Cyrus. It’s interesting to observe her current state, and how self-aware she is of it. You want to help her out, but she already knows the answer, so you can’t do anything because she needs to figure it out herself. Making an album that clocks in at over an hour and a half, but never feels redundant is a testament to the amount of universal BS she’s been contemplating. Sure, the whole thing could have done without its entire middle section and been a fantastic, polished, and personal album, but why would you have it any other way" ‘Dead Petz’ is a glimpse into the inner fragments of Miley Cyrus’ broken mind. She is confound, unapologetically messy, and a proudly complicated product of the Hollywood machine.