Technically, Breakout is Miley Cyrus' second album, but her first was part of the two-disc set Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus, which attempted to capitalize on Cyrus' huge popularity as The Disney Channel's pop star in disguise and establish her as a real pop star under her own name. Though she scored a tween-pop hit with "See You Again," the ...
Technically, Breakout is Miley Cyrus' second album, but her first was part of the two-disc set Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus, which attempted to capitalize on Cyrus' huge popularity as The Disney Channel's pop star in disguise and establish her as a real pop star under her own name. Though she scored a tween-pop hit with "See You Again," the songs Cyrus recorded as herself on Meet Miley Cyrus weren't significantly different than her Hannah Montana fare. She takes another step toward having her own pop identity with Breakout, the first album credited to Miley Cyrus alone. Breakout is possibly the most generic title this set of songs could have, but it expresses the album's purpose nicely: Miley sheds the confines of her Hannah Montana image for an identity that is just as stylized and calculated as her alter ego. As with all Disney music, nothing has been left to chance. Breakout hits all the marks that a 2008 pop album should, right down to a dance remix and a song about saving the environment; cunningly, "Wake Up America" is one of the album's catchiest moments. These songs were written and produced by committee, designed to present the feisty, carefree Miley (the title track's schoolgirl rebellion) and the sensitive Miley ("The Driveway," "Goodbye") to the widest audience possible. Truth be told, these sides of Miley still aren't drastically different from Hannah Montana's music -- "Full Circle," with its bubbly melody and playful lyrics, plays like a slightly more sophisticated Hannah Montana single. Cyrus' sound is still a mix of Avril Lavigne-esque sass and Michelle Branch-like vulnerability, served with a bright sheen borrowed from new wave, which she nods to with an oddly rushed, strings-driven cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Cyrus' voice is deeper and rougher than when she's singing as Hannah, and there are a few more reflective moments here than there would be on her other project, but only a handful of songs truly break out from the Montana mold. "Bottom of the Ocean" is so polished and restrained that it could be a hit on triple-A radio, while "7 Things" is a twangy, clever piece of love-hate pop that feels descended from Shania Twain's flirty mix of rock and country. The controlling boyfriend putdown "Fly on the Wall" goes in a completely different direction, playing like a G-rated version of Britney Spears' "Toxic" with fuzzed-out guitars and keyboards that lead into girlishly snotty vocals. Even if these songs are derivative of much more established pop divas, they provide clues to the kind of company Cyrus aims to keep. And while Breakout isn't as much of a breakthrough as it could be, it still moves Miley closer to an identity and career outside of Hannah. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi