“She is Coming.” “She is Here.” “She is Everything.”
“She is: Miley Cyrus.”
That is the title of Miley Cyrus’ upcoming album, due before the end of the year. Keeping up with the trend of serialized album releases, the former three are the titles of the album’s preceding three EPs. The first of which, “She is Coming,” drops June 7.
The new EP features 6 songs, all far from the sound of her last album, “Younger Now.” It is a refreshing change after the album failed to gain much traction beyond the first single “Malibu.”
The project features production from familiar collaborators, Mike WiLL Made-It and Mark Ronson, along with those new to Cyrus’ orbit like Andrew Wyatt, John Cunningham and Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA. The EP also has features from Ghostface Killah, Swae Lee and RuPaul. The broad collection of producers somehow creates a distinct, cohesive and genre-bending new sound to kick off Cyrus’ next chapter.
The EP starts with “Mother’s Daughter,” one of the strongest songs. It is part brag, part political statement and part mid-party sing along. It has the same nonchalant, blase swagger that “We Can’t Stop” brought to “Bangerz.” This, however, is not the rehashing of an old single. It has the pop and hip hop blend from “Bangerz,” but a more mature, aware and methodical approach to songwriting with an edge of rock.
Cyrus rides the trap hi-hat driven beat in a speak-sing flow during the verses, clips a perfectly catchy chorus and transitions to a rising belt for the post-chorus. The touch of co-writer Alma definitely adds to the track, but it is the strengths of Cyrus as a versatile personality that is really on display. This is a definite song of the summer contender.
While “Mother’s Daughter” hints at a dreamy space-iness, “Unholy,” “D.R.E.A.M.” and “Party Up the Street” all dive deep into it. All three songs are a commentary on the drug and party culture Cyrus criticized last album cycle when explaining why she left the hip-hop genre behind. It is hard to tell in these songs whether she is offering an embrace or reproach, but this ambiguity aids the tracks.
“Unholy” and “D.R.E.A.M.” were produced by John Cunningham who worked on most of the late XXXTENTACION’s songs. There is nothing strikingly unique about the elements of “Unholy,” but the coalescence of them with Cyrus’ delivery make it a hypnotic ballad.
“D.R.E.A.M.” interpolates the Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” to create a new message for a new generation that is dealing simultaneously with the gradual legalization of marijuana and the opioid crisis. Just as the song feels like it could fade out into a haze, it is interrupted by the abrupt introduction of Ghostface Killah’s verse. While jarring at first, when listening to the EP in order it serves as an easy transition into “Cattitude.”
“Cattitude” is the EP’s outlier pulling heavily from house music and queer culture. On the track, RuPaul and Cyrus appreciate their kitty cats and proclaim their sexual liberation. Both serve up some strong bars, but in a potentially feminist moment Cyrus chooses to reignite her feud with Nicki Minaj, spitting the line “I love you, Nicki, but I listen to Cardi.” It is a weird choice, and one that sticks out in the song overall.
“Party Up the Street” is Mike WiLL Made-It’s reunion with Cyrus. It is a much different track than any of the ones on “Bangerz” and feels much more influenced by Swae Lee’s presence than any of the other present parties. It is not exactly a pleasant listen, striking quite a few moments of atonality, but it is still a catchy track that feels perfect for the summer season.
The EP closes with “The Most,” produced by Mark Ronson and BJ Burton. This track has the heaviest country influence on it and feels like “Malibu’s” sister track. Miley Cyrus is able to really shine on ballads like this. She weighs each word with an effortless heft of emotion and makes her passion, lust and hurt palpable to the listener. Not to mention her vocals soar with grace. Though it is not likely to be one of the best performing tracks on the EP, it is definitely one of the most impressive from a songwriting and performance perspective.
“She is Coming” is a new evolution of Miley Cyrus. As an artist who has had re-invention steeped into her career since the beginning, Cyrus has managed another evolution while combining two of her eras together. Where “Younger Now” was woke and welcoming, “Bangerz” was drugged out and confident, “She is Coming” harnesses all of this energy to create a distinct, unique moment of music in a time when genres are increasingly hard to pin down.
It will be interesting to see how this first taste of “She is: Miley Cyrus” connects to the two upcoming EPs but for now, bask in the sun while listening to this summer-ready collection of tracks.