Miley Cyrus has been through the ringer. Born into music royalty, and with the determination to follow in her father’s footsteps, Cyrus was a working adult at the age of fifteen, churning out episodes and soundtracks at a ridiculous rate. That all culminated in her imploding and producing her incredibly successful and even more controversial Bangerz era. Since then she’s grown her hair and grown up, which is ever so evident on her ironically titled sixth LP Younger Now.
Sonically, the album bounces from country to pop to a blend of the both. A perfect example of this, the album’s lead single, ‘Malibu’, a magical reinvention following the antics of her Bangerz era and the complete off the wall weirdness of her Dead Petz era. A slow, yet pounding number, Malibu served Cyrus on multiple levels. It was refined and well-constructed, taking her craftsmanship to a new height, but also put her prior mistakes firmly in the past.
This genre blending is also noticeable on ‘Thinkin’’, a country-rock-pop hybrid that demands attention with its earworm chorus that sticks in your brain with a vengeance. That same vengeance is present on the darker, folk-infused ‘Bad Mood’, where Cyrus’ vocals attack, perfectly matching with the brooding, intense production.
Despite the more forgettable tracks (‘I Would Die For You’, ‘Week Without You’ and ‘Rainbowland’), Cyrus proves that when she is good she’s great. ‘Younger Now’ and ‘Inspired’ both embrace a more traditional country ideal, affirming her return to her country roots and wholesome image.Lyrically hollow, both tracks’ real standout element is Cyrus’ soaring voice.In fact, Cyrus’ vocals are breath-taking on every track, notably on cuts like the beautiful ‘Miss You So Much’, a marvellous testament to love set to a undulating acoustic instrumental that truly showcases Cyrus’ talent as a singer-songwriter and album standout ‘She’s Not Him’, a spectacular ballad about Cyrus’s inability to fall in love with anyone except her muse.
Ultimately, ‘Younger Now’ is a strong return to form from Cyrus. The album serves as a goodbye to her rebellious image of a bad girl and adopts wholeheartedly the inner flower child she left behind so many years ago. It is mature, yet young. It is strong, yet vulnerable. Whatever it is, it is unapologetically Miley.