Miley Cyrus promised her new album would be more grown-up — it’s the kind of talk that sets off alarm bells when you’re a 15-year-old tween idol coming off a controversial, bare-backed Vanity Fair photo shoot. She’s already got a raspy, middle-aged rocker chick’s voice; would she suddenly try to live up to it with more provocative material? A clue to the answer comes in Breakout’s opening verse, a harangue against life’s cruelest inequities: ”Every week’s the same/Stuck in school’s so lame/My parents say that I’m lazy/Getting up at 8 a.m.’s crazy/Tired of bein’ told what to do/So unfair, so uncool.” With that, a sigh of parental relief is heard across the land: Our little girl isn’t growing up. Phew.
Actually, Cyrus did just the right amount of maturing with her last CD, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, a step up from the wish-fulfillment anthems of Disney’s Hannah Montana into guitar-fueled, boy-crazy power pop. This successor mostly follows the same templates, tossing in a Go-Go's influence for good measure (drummer Gina Schock even co-wrote and sings on the ”Vacation”-esque title track). Breakout’s best tunes let Cyrus be feisty without graduating to Avril-like levels of petulance: ”Full Circle,” ”The Driveway,” and the single ”7 Things,” which veers from sensitive breakup song in the strummy verses to punky-pop kiss-off in the double-time choruses. Here, her demands for repentance are amusingly age-appropriate: ”Your sincere apology…when you mean it, I’ll believe it/If you text it, I’ll delete it.” U go, grl.
After all this fun, Breakout’s second half gets overly ballad-heavy — guess that’s where the growing up factors in — although, impressively, she’s a dead ringer for the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines on the mournful ”These Four Walls.” And then we discover the one clunker, ”Wake Up America” — Cyrus’ eco-anthem, on which she pleads for the earth: ”Can you give her a little attention?” The song’s a dud, but you’ve gotta love that she talks about our troubled planet as if it were a needy adolescent. B
DOWNLOAD THIS: Hear a preview of ''Full Circle'' and the rest of Breakout at mileycyrus.com