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LABEL: Hollywood Records RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2009 GENRE: Synthpop, Pop, Rock
// review by Jeff

She's having the time of her life. What are WE doing?

I'm not exactly sure why, but that Miley Cyrus seems to be pretty popular. I don't even need to go too deep into her history because it's already plastered all over the Facebooks, the Twitters, and even formerly respectable news venues. But she seems to have it all: a hit television show (the questionable doppelganger comedy "Hannah Montana", which has shown major astronomical success and pretty much tripled Disney's worth), a father who infamously taught the world just how to deal with an achy-breaky heart, and a music career by age 15 that already could eclipse the 40-year-old acoustic crooner in the corner of that dusty, secluded café (though that last one is no surprise -- it seems as though every single Disney-employed actor is entitled to a record deal). Bottom line is that she can get stuck in your head like a frisky earwig. After her first album, "Breakout", broke out in 2008, she's come back with a new EP, "The Time Of Our Lives", and is trying to make her mark again... but only releasing it at Wal-Mart? ...Okay, sure.

I can't say I'm falling completely for the big stir over Miley Cyrus. I don't speak as though I am her #1 fan and have a carbon copy of her autograph tattooed to the insides of my eyelids or any nonsense like that. On the other hand, I don't really hate her either. Am I a neutral party? As neutral as we're gonna get. Anyway, we start out with Kicking and Screaming, which is boasting a bit more darker rock than I would have expected from the almost-squeaky-clean Miss Cyrus. The lyrics sound like she's having some serious man issues there. Can't really blame her though; teen angst is some of the most powerful angst out there! And heck, if I had to be around the Jonas Brothers, I'd probably want to make a nasty song as well. But I just can't picture Miley as a gruff person. Luckily, Party In The U.S.A. can easily remedy that. Her first single from the EP, it's extremely radio-friendly (and doing extremely well on the charts as well) with a funky dance-pop hook. Okay, so I like the song. I'm not sure the nationalism will transfer over to other countries as well as it will here, but so be it.

When I Look At You is far more serious and solemn, with the grim piano playing us into a "deep" ballad. Again, it's not too bad (it apparently was good enough to become the next single from the EP), but it won't go down in her discography as one of the "big ones" for her. Actually, it sounds too much like every other ballad. Maybe the upbeat Time Of Our Lives will bring me back up. Let's see... it's a pretty catchy dance-pop number again and shows off her upper octaves. Maybe this one should've been a single, but then again, I'm no Disney executive! Talk Is Cheap follows, and I have to say, it's pretty unimpressive in relation to other songs here. It's pop, but it's so damn generic that I'm not even interested in listening to this faux-glam-rock piece twice. Moving on...

Next up is Obsessed, which pretty much describes most mindless fans. Oop, did I say that out loud and offend a large group of people? Oh well. Here's another ballad, but sounds a bit too familiar -- like all too many country ballads. If imitation is the best form of flattery, then the country genre as a whole must be fully flustered by now. Then, just as we leave on a calm and gentle note, Miley gives us a kick to the groin with a live rendition of Before The Storm, which would have sufficed if the Jonas Brothers didn't show up and pop their wuss-rock cherry all over it. Apparently that song is about Miley's breakup with Nick Jonas... so why in the hell are the Jonas Brothers joining up with her if she broke up with one of them? Must be a standard Disney contract appendix.

Overall, it's not a bad effort from someone who is only 16 years old. It's not going to go down in history as one of the Top 100 albums, but I guess it'll hold us over until she either puts out a racy album filled with sexual innuendos or a new Disney sensation eclipses her success. Either one is pretty much bound to happen.


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