Miley Cyrus, Younger Now | Album Review
Despite a lack of flashy records and singles, Miley Cyrus exceeds expectations on her sixth studio album, ‘Younger Now.’
Miley Cyrus seemed doomed from the start. After shocking the world with Bangerz in 2013, all indications suggested a big-time letdown with her sixth studio album, Younger Now. Why? Basically, Cyrus did a stark about-face stylistically, trading urban-pop for country-folk/singer-songwriter. While none of the teaser tracks were completely horrid, none of them were surefire either. Nonetheless, despite a lack of flashy records and singles, Cyrus ends up exceeding expectations on Younger Now.
“Younger Now” embraces ‘new’ Miley from the start. Here, elements of pop, country, and folk are fused together, making a different, yet interesting sound. The production work is interesting. There are no glitzy synths, but rather a throwback sound. Perhaps it’s not innovatively eclectic, but doesn’t sound like other pop on the radio. Vocally, Miley Cyrus flaunts her distinct pipes despite the stylistic about face. The biggest rub about “Younger Now” upon its arrival was the lack of preparation the listener received for this stylistic shift. Contextually, “Younger Now” is clearly a highlight.
“Malibu,” the promo single showcases a mature Miley Cyrus. Clearly, Cyrus has grown up, a pro in regards to “Malibu.” This is a serious song, trading carefree fun and rebellion for love. On the first verse, she portrays a picture of being lost and found through true love. The chorus summarizes the dedication in she feels toward her man. The second verse grows even more personal, clearly referencing Liam Hemsworth. While it’s shocking that guitars supplant synths, ultimately, “Malibu” shines.
“Rainbowland,” featuring Dolly Parton, has an old-school, retro country sound. Nothing about the record sounds like 2017, save for its thoughtful, all-encompassing message. “Rainbowland” is an intriguing listen, but fails to rank among the elite songs from Younger Now.
“Week Without You”
“Week Without You,” like “Younger Now” and “Malibu” shines more within the context of the album. The retro-vibes and throwback sound are pros. Even so, “Week Without You” is an odd fit by modern pop or country standards – it simply doesn’t sound the least bit mainstream. Initially, that seemed like a bad thing, but “Week Without You” is a ‘grower.’ Vocally, Cyrus is in her wheelhouse.
The acoustic guitar driven sound that dominates “Miss You So Much” is a selling point. Furthermore, Cyrus delivers respectable vocals that continue to mix country, folk, and singer/songwriter. “I Would Die for You” trades acoustic guitars for electric guitars. What remains unchanged are the country sensibilities, which carry over from “Miss You So Much.” Initially sans percussion, eventually, a light, countrified groove arrives, anchoring “I would Die for You.”
“Thinkin’” gives Younger Now a much-need punch. Rather than showcasing poise, Miley Cyrus showcases more attitude. She delivers the feistiest performance of the album. Not only is “Thinkin’” the feistiest performance of the album, it’s also the most fun. Here, Cyrus’ retro-pop experiments yield sensational results.
“Bad Mood” has the elephantine task of following “Thinkin’,” a record that ranks among the elite songs from Younger Now. It’s arduous, but “Bad Mood” meets expectations. Set in a minor key, Cyrus showcases her big personality, as well as her distinct vocal tone. The old-school country vibes work out splendidly.
“Love Someone” continues a ‘late push’ of excitability from Younger Now. Calling “Love Someone” a ‘surefire blast’ is an overstatement, but there’s still a heaping does of personality. The chorus ranks among the most infectious of Younger Now. The profanity plays a role.
“Ever since the day that I met you / I knew you weren’t the one / But nothing ever stops me from forgetting / Packing all my shit and moving on / Hey, yeah.”
Following the rousing trio comprised of “Thinkin’,” “Bad Mood,” and “Love Someone,” ballad “She’s Not Him” arrives. Beautiful it is, it’s less exciting than what precedes it. “Inspired” concludes Younger Now. As a teaser track, “Inspired” came off as a bore. It’s not exactly thrilling contextually, but plays better now as opposed to then.
So, how does Younger Now stack up for Miley Cyrus? Honestly, this album ends up being much better than expected. This is completely different from what Cyrus has released in the past, but the country-folk sensibilities work out. The biggest rub is that at times, the material grows boring. Younger Now has its share of great moments, but certainly isn’t without flaw.
Gems: “Younger Now,” “Malibu,” “Week Without You,” “Thinkin’,” & “Bad Mood”