Tuesday, June 22, 2010;
If Miley Cyrus's career can be measured in Britney Years, she is now in Phase Two, after the teasing but wholesome debut but before The Era Of K-Fed. With her adolescence and starmaking vehicle "Hannah Montana" both coming to an end, the 17-year-old Cyrus must ready herself for adulthood, and "Can't Be Tamed," her third solo disc, is the declaration of independence that years of "Behind the Music" specials have taught us it must be.
For Grown-Up Miley to live, Teen Pop Miley must die, and her/its demise is explicitly detailed in "Robot," Cyrus's lament about the existential misery of life as a Disney-bot: "I need to breathe/I'm not your robot/Stop telling me I'm part of this big machine/I'm breaking free," she informs her captors.
Free to do what, Cyrus doesn't say, but like any female pop singer from 15 to 45, it must necessarily involve Lady Gaga: "Tamed" has been so thoroughly Gaga-fied, so faux electro-disco-fied, Cyrus seems to have merely traded one overlord for another.
She sounds better singing semi-stripped-down untrendy pop songs such as "The Climb," which, whatever their studio sweetening, don't rely on robot noises for their kick. But "Tamed" has little interest in deft little lighter ballads, nor in any real expression of Cyrus's personality. Cyrus has always seemed real-ish, as if underneath the sparkly headbands she was really a cranky 40-year-old cocktail waitress who smoked. But "Tamed" doesn't take advantage of her vinegary personality, dividing itself between disposable, tinny dance pop tracks and generically sweeping, echo-y ballads.
-- Allison Stewart
recommended tracks: "Take Me Along," "Can't Be Tamed"