Miley Cyrus is either carving her own path or struggling to find her voice — and it’s not clear which on her new EP, She Is Coming (yes, that’s a play on words that both alludes to the upcoming full-length album this precedes and a sex joke).
The first track makes it clear why she’s wearing that Sex Pistol's Nevermind The Bullocks shirt on the cover — no, Cyrus hasn’t gone punk. Instead, she’s stanning for women, witches, misfits, and feminism on “Mother’s Daughter.” While the trip hop beat is refreshingly new for her, the lyrics are t-shirt feminism at its blandest: “nasty women” references and a refrain of “don’t fuck with my freedom.”It’s salient at this moment in time, when abortion access is under fire nationwide, but lacking in any specificity. As it is, Cyrus is doubling down on a message of freedom, which was already something we knew she supports.
On both “Unholy” and “Party Up the Street,” Cyrus embraces her proclivities for drug use (shocking to feel this is outsider behavior in 2019) and defends herself from certain slings and arrows still coming her way after the 2013 Bangerz era (see: the raunchy “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop” clips, not to mention a certain MTV VMAs performance). Frankly, this is where Cyrus could take some advice from an old adage: The best revenge is living well — there’s truly no need at this point to give her haters oxygen.
On “D.R.E.A.M.,” Cyrus taps into the golden age of hip hop, sampling not only the samples but a twist on the lyrics of that Wu-Tang Clan classic, “C.R.E.A.M.” Having Ghostface Killah on the track is meant to be a kind of co-sign, but it centers her in a scene and genre that isn’t about her. She ends up doing the same on “Cattitude” which, despite the feature from RuPaul, makes drag culture into Miley culture. So, yes, despite her intentions, Cyrus still has an appropriation problem.
The EP’s best track is its last, “The Most.” A co-write with Mark Ronson, it’s vulnerable, confessional, and the most traditional pop song included. It’s an easy track, and sentiment, to like because it doesn’t omit the messy sides of Miley. She doesn’t hit all the notes perfectly, and she talks about her own failings and dark days — she could obviously go darker and harder, and it would work here too. Six years after Bangerz, this former child star has finally married the apparent love of her life, Liam Hemsworth — whom this song may or may not be about, and proved the depth and breadth of her musicianship in one-off moments like a live cover of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” on The Tonight Show. Sometimes it’s hard to find that more mature, sophisticated artist and woman on this EP.
On the whole, She Is Coming suffers because Cyrus silos different musical moods and sides of herself rather than seamlessly folding them into a whole. It feels like Cyrus is working to discover herself and include us in her journey — she has yet to realize the sum of her often extraordinary parts quite yet.