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The Time of Our Lives
Artist: Miley Cyrus
Label: Hollywood

Forget for a moment, if you can, the way Miley Cyrus has been courting controversy. Apart from the fleshly photo shoots, stripper moves at a teen-oriented awards show, etc., this is still a kid who makes pop music strong enough not to need the gawking and gimmickry the aforementioned gaffes inspire.

And for even what looks to be a toss-off Wal-Mart exclusive for her clothing line (also only sold at the retail behemoth), she commands interest. On The Time of Our Lives, Cyrus sounds like her growing up in public continues in something of a cross between autobiography and the trying on of characters common to the adolescence it's easy to forget she is still undergoing.

Current single "Party In The U.S.A." posits La Miley as a Southern innocent in jaded Hollywood. A burbly reggae/r&b groove, sounding like a lost Tom Tom Club track, and lyrics affirming the comforting power of pop music as she references Britney Spears (OK...) and Jay-Z (huh?!). For a song in which she doesn't have writing credit, this sounds like a plausible narrative for Cyrus' vulnerable side.

She doesn't have a hand in composing the EP's other six songs, but no matter. "Obsessed" and "Talk Is Cheap" take the Avril Lavigne pop-punk sass she has exhibited in the past and brings it to  more authentically bubblegum glam  Suzi Quatro territory; the former sounds like a "Fly on the Wall" sequel for its probable boyfriend/paparazzo metaphor, while the latter finds her uttering "pissed." If that's Ok with you (and the kids in your charge who might be agog over her Hannah Montana role), proceed.

One hopes the possible CCM crossover potential in "When I Look At You" isn't just another persona to toss about. If certain songs on the last HM TV soundtrack seemed like mea culpas for past indiscretions, this could a sincere (re)connection to the Jesus for whom she's said she does everything. Fingers crossed on this one.

Reprising her collaboration with The Jonas Brothers on their latest album, a live version of "Before the Storm" doesn't come off quite so country as the studio original. Hmmm...

Shoddy art direction on the packaging for an artist so image conscious notwithstanding, Time works as a passable entry for an  already prolific singer, another chapter in a tale of  celebrity adolescence.

Jamie Lee Rake

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