Amid the commotion that Miley Cyrus has morphed from a Disney star into a pop tart, a simple fact has been overlooked: Her new album isn’t half bad. Of course, that means it’s also only half good, but “Can’t Be Tamed’’ is full of the catchiest Top 40 hits money can buy. Ostensibly, Cyrus’s third studio release is her declaration of independence — from what, exactly, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps from adolescence, or her “Hannah Montana’’ shackles, or the public’s perception of her. At 17, Cyrus cares not about her reputation, and she’s rocking Joan Jett’s black leather pants to prove it. Britney Spears’s influence also colors this album, starting with the title track, which splits the difference between Spears’s “If U Seek Amy’’ and Flo Rida’s “Right Round.’’ A banal cover of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn’’ makes the original sound like a Library of Congress recording. And Ke$ha, is that you on “Permanent December’’? Striking the right balance of fierce and frothy, Cyrus is more suited to dance-pop (“Liberty Walk’’). But really, Cyrus needs to be tamed? Please. This stuff is already pretty innocuous. (Out now) JAMES REED
ESSENTIAL “Liberty Walk’’
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