With the release of her sixth studio project — Younger Now, it seems as if Miley Cyrus has tried just about everything.
Her first album, Meet Miley Cyrus is a cookie-cutter pop introduction into what would eventually become a full-fledged singing career. Then came Breakout, which is filled with teenage angst hits like “Fly on the Wall,” followed up by Can’t Be Tamed. Cyrus’ fourth album, Bangerz, is a hip-hop/pop experiment credited for officially catapulting her into adult stardom. Given the buzz generated by Bangerz, it’s a shame that the album is succeeded by Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz — a disastrous 92 minutes of sound. Whether you know Cyrus from her “Hannah Montana” days or discovered her somewhere along the way, each album is a reflection of the entertainer’s life.
Though this is not to say that they have all been equally as autobiographical. Younger Now for example, is less confessional than Bangerz was. If Bangerz sounded like you were reading through Cyrus’ diary, Younger Now sounds like a second-hand account of a journey. Safe would be the best way to describe Cyrus’ new album, a rather disappointing revelation considering that she has basically made a name for herself through experimentation. The album is consistent if nothing else, using country sounds to anchor her pop and rock beats.
Listening to the full album for the first time was a bit underwhelming considering that her first single “Malibu” was such an upbeat, honest track about her reconciliation with on-again fiance and actor, Liam Hemsworth. When her second single and album namesake, “Younger Now” was released it appeared as if the song was just a brief nod to her “roots” — a word she has frequently used to describe her change in lifestyle and sound. For those who haven’t listened to the album yet, be prepared to listen to different iterations of “Younger Now” and less “Malibu.” In fact, I would even go on to say that “Malibu” is out of place for Cyrus’ newest collection of tracks.
Although Cyrus has been especially vocal about her love for the song “Rainbowland,” a song she sings with her godmother and country artist, Dolly Parton, the track falls short of the hype. “Rainbowland” is supposed to be inspirational for its feel-good message, but comes across as the musical equivalent of bubblegum. With lyrics like “Living in a Rainbowland/ Where you and I go hand in hand/ Oh, I’d be lying if I said this was fine/ All the hurt and the hate going on here/ We are rainbows, me and you/ Every color, every hue/ Let’s shine on through/ Together, we can start living in a Rainbowland”, the song sounds detached from the conflict it’s trying to address.
If I were to select Cyrus’ next single from Younger Now, I would suggest that “Love Someone” come out front and center. The song is catchy for its edgy guitar licks and driving drum patterns that help tell the story of a dysfunctional relationship and the sacrifices one makes for love. And while this song may or may not be a reflection about her own experiences with love, the song has a way of resonating with the listener regardless of who it’s about. And that’s the problem with a lot of the songs in Younger Now: It’s not about Cyrus, but it’s not about the listener either.
As uninspirational as the album appears to be, the 11 tracks have given Cyrus the opportunity to showcase her vocal range and prove to audiences that her talent cannot be confined within one specific music genre.