[Above - CAN'T BE TAMED: She may be just 17, but Miley Cyrus is already on to her second album.]
BY VICTORIA BARKER
Can't Be Tamed (Universal)
Why the rush to grow up? At just 17, this American tween phenomenon has courted her fair share of controversy.
In a bid to shed her wholesome Hannah Montana (the character she has portrayed for the past four years on a Disney Channel show of the same name) persona, Cyrus has been dating older guys, dressing skimpily and getting tattoos.
Hell, just last month, the girl drew boatloads of flak for her performance on talent show Britain's Got Talent, during which she appeared to share a steamy lip-lock with a female back-up dancer. How risque.
Now, on her second album Can't Be Tamed - a follow-up to 2008's Breakout, which spawned such sing-along hits as Party In The USA and 7 Things - Cyrus has channelled that rebellious spirit into her music.
From opening track Liberty Walk (which features her attempt at rapping, with mediocre results), this record is filled with defiant, angst-ridden lyrics against thumping beats, with plenty of Auto-tune thrown in.
"Free yourself, slam the door/Not a prisoner any more," the lass, who is the daughter of Achy Breaky Heart singer Billy Ray Cyrus, sings with conviction.
The raspy-voiced singer goes on to diss her goody-two-shoes past on songs like Robot ("Stand here, sell this and hit your mark... I would scream but I'm just this hollow shell" - a potshot at Disney, perhaps?) and laments lost love on ballad Stay.
Permanent December sounds scarily like something fellow popster Kesha (of Tik Tok fame) would put out, sing-talking sass and all. Do we really need one more of those?
But it is the title track and first single Can't Be Tamed that is arguably the catchiest and most enjoyable of the lot.
Still, when all the up-tempo, synth-dominated bubblegum pop is stripped away, Cyrus, who shares songwriting credits on most of the 12 tracks, sounds most grown-up on the songs that have a more rock or country vibe.
On My Heart Beats For Love, for example, her vocals flow more naturally, resulting in a soaring power ballad that will tug at the heartstrings.
Listen out, too, for Cyrus' stripped-down take on 1980s hair-metal anthem (originally by Poison) Every Rose Has Its Thorn.
Ultimately, though, with a good mix of hits and misses on this record, it seems like Cyrus would do well to give herself a bit of time to mature as an artist and to realise her full potential.
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