As of the last several years, Miley Cyrus has been more prevalent for her antics outside of music, rather than her music itself. On 2013’s Bangerz, and 2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, Cyrus ventured outside of the established path that had been carved for her, turning off many of her fans. However, Cyrus is on the right track to winning them back with her latest album Younger Now.
Cyrus begins the album with her own version of a PSA, with the eponymous “Younger Now,” and “Malibu.” She tells us that she has left the world of cultural appropriation, and is discovering herself once again. Through a shift in production style and lyricism, Cyrus lets the listener know that the album is going in a different direction — a comfort zone of hers. With her all-but-forgotten country twang, she produces a breezy pop-rock and country-folk album, drawing on the country rock music she was raised on.
The only artist to contribute a feature on the album is country music legend Dolly Parton (also Cyrus’ godmother), who appears on the jaunty and inoffensive “Rainbowland,” an overly simplified attempt at being political. However, it is definitely the most country song on the album, as it can be characterized as Western swing.
While most of the album is reflective of Cyrus’ soul-searching that led her back into a relationship with actor Liam Hemsworth, and the happiness stemming from her gig as coach on The Voice, “Week Without You,” and “Love Someone,” are the only songs detailing a breakup. The former is full of old-time charm. In the latter, she combines a ‘70s rock ballad with late-aughts pop.
“Miss You So Much,” “I Would Die For You,” and “She’s Not Him” showcase Cyrus’ twang and the power of her voice, especially the emotion she can evoke when she drags her vocals. The songs remind the listener that Miley Cyrus is back and, incidentally, they’re three of the better songs of the album.
With “Thinkin’” and “Bad Mood,” Cyrus channels the sound of other artists, and attempts to make it her own. In “Thinkin’,” she reminds the listener of Shania Twain in her prime, and in “Bad Mood,” the song eerily imitates the structure of Panic! At The Disco’s “The Good, The Bad, and The Dirty,” and manages to outdo the original.
Cyrus ends the album with “Inspired,” a song dedicated to her father and the environment, two of the biggest influences in her life. The country-folk ballad indulges the listener with a raw passion, as if for those three minutes, you’re roaming the prairielands with Cyrus herself.
As an album, Younger Now lacks cohesiveness, and therefore will probably not achieve critical acclaim. But, as a collection of music, it is a reminder that Miley Cyrus still has the potential to be one of the music industry’s best young artists. After years of stretching the status quo, Cyrus doesn’t take many risks, and transitions successfully to a new era as an artist. Younger Now proves that the best of Miley Cyrus is yet to come.