Dialing Down the Mayhem
Miley Cyrus has had many incarnations over the last eleven years of her career. From her explosive Disney debut as Hannah Montana, her Breakout album and then her mature dance-pop phase Can’t Be Tamed, Cyrus began to peel back her layers album after album.
In 2013, she was all in for the shock value of the twerking dance craze for her 4th studio album Bangerz. Then, she swirled into psychedelic mayhem for her collaboration with The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz in 2015. Two years later, Cyrus has ditched the drugs to get high on love and nature for her country-roots revival, Younger Now.
The first single, “Malibu” was the first indication that Younger Now would be distancing itself from the party-girl persona on Bangerz. Her reconciliation with The Last Song co-star, Liam Hemsworth, in 2016 inspired the track as the now re-engaged couple reside in their Malibu home. This breezy summer hit is passable as pop, but Cyrus’ Southern twang sneaks in as an added instrument. Cyrus acknowledges her distance from her prior sound on the title-track. “I’m not afraid of who I used to be,” she sings, reflecting on her past. The song reflects country-pop and sounds like a feature from Shania Twain.
Dolly Parton takes a break from Dollywood to sing with her goddaughter on “Rainbowland.” The intro and outro feature a voicemail to Cyrus from Parton about her feature on the song. The country duet details a place “where we’re free to be exactly who we are.” From here, the album focuses on love songs. A highlight is the acoustic “Miss You So Much,” a folky vocal experiment. The lazy pop songwriting and production on “Thinkin’” feels out of place after a streak of mellow lovesickness, but then Cyrus is an average millennial that wakes up in a “Bad Mood” for another album highlight. “Love Someone” is cool blues rock, but it’s followed by bland ballads to finish off the album.
Cyrus has officially joined the ranks of pop stars reinventing themselves lately (Kesha, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry), but it leaves little to be desired. Most of the album is forgettable, with small streaks of Cyrus’ personality wedged in the crevices. In true Cyrus fashion, she will be taking care of her pet pigs in lieu of touring Younger Now.