Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz
Listen here: mileycyrus.com/andherdeadpetz
There's this tension between Miley's performative stoner/party girl persona and the sad introspection that makes up the best parts of her albums. She's got those country music sadness ballads running deep in her musical DNA that, much like her Disney past, she won't ever really be able to distance herself from, no matter how hard she parties or how many drugs she takes and I think that's what appeals to me about her, that her partying and psychedelic aesthetic is such a transparent attempt to cover up an inner sadness.
Bangerz was a great breakup album because it took place in such a specific point of a breakup, that time when you're covering up your pain by announcing how fun you are, how ready you are to get back out there, how you're done feeling bad and you're ready to move on (but not really) by getting reckless. Its strongest moments were the saddest ones, the ones away from the party where Miley gets a chance to take down her Mike Will Made It walls.
Similarly Dead Petz takes place in another very specific post breakup moment, the one where you've achieved an epiphany/clarity (perhaps partly premature because of drugs). Dead Petz is about accepting loss, being lonely, and more importantly, being ready to move on. The drugs and the psychedelia in Dead Petz, like the Mike Will Made It club beats in Bangerz, are both set dressing and coping mechanism, working to take her mind off her inner turmoil. Her coping mechanisms and the causes she chooses to champion from her position of privilege are invariably the least interesting things about Miley on Dead Petz, but the difference here is in the after effect. In the bleakness of Bangerz, the party ends and nothing's changed, but in the more hopeful Dead Petz, when she comes down from the high there's still that loneliness, but there's also awareness and self-examination. It's a small victory, but after any heartbreak you take those when you can get them.