Review Summary: It’s a shame about that waste of Dolly Parton...
I have a thoroughly uncomplicated relationship with Miley Cyrus' music--I don't know much about it and what I do know, I tend to not like. However, when you throw in Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, things start to get a little more complicated. I'll come out and say it, I loved the Dead Petz. The album was a dumpster fire of half-baked ideas; an apparent thrown-together "budget" album where Miley could do whatever she pleased. Did it work? Hell no. Was it memorable? Absolutely.
Now, if you're one of the few people clamoring for another "Space Bootz" or "Milky Milky Milk" (both are stone cold classics in my opinion) then Younger Now
will not only disappoint, but it will be all together baffling
. But Miley's latest, torn apart, makes for a compelling album simply because of how and why it exists.
is strange because, after finishing it, one cannot help but feel like the album is a wry, knowing smile from Miley Cryus; an affirmation that, yes, this was the plan all along. You see, had Younger Now
dropped in 2012, before the MTV awards, before the pot and hyper-vegan-gender-bending, before Her Dead Petz, it would be interpreted as an entirely different record. Instead of shot at mainstream, non-Disney stardom, Miley now seems all together worldy. She has the air of a girl who discovered herself through a lifetime of experiences. Bangerz
was her wild teens and everything after was frenetic youthful experimentation.
Thanks to such a story, the album isn't a breakout, it's a good ole-fashioned "return to your roots" sort of reflection. It makes everything feel more rugged and natural, despite coming from such a young performer. It's a solid and lovely record wrapped in a comeback wrapped in a great story. Miley planned it beautifully, like some Machiavellian plot set over four years. Younger Now
is the album you expected then, but receiving now, albeit with more contextual panache and dramatic flair.
In a time where Lady Gaga is inducing eye rolls (sorry but the whole Joanne
/Bud Light Diver Bar tour is insufferably lame), Taylor is setting the world on fire, and Katy Perry is absolutely drowning
, Younger Now
feels heartrendingly safe and comfortable. Miley, for the first time in years, is letting others fight for the limelight while she presents the most genuine and enjoyable music of her career.
It's safety, however, renders it somewhat toothless and benign when placed next to not only her previous material, but everything her peers are currently doing. Sure, Swish, Swish
is a veritable pile of sh*t but it will likely leave more of an impression than, say, "Thinkin'." Mind you, the aforementioned track is the worst offering, but songs like "Bad Moon" and "I Would Die For You" don't fare much better. Miley has a penchant for writing languid and earthy tracks, but when they do not land the result is dull, lifeless, and forgettable.
Those songs removed, Younger Now
manages to captivate with few good tunes. The best of the bunch manage to straddle the album-wide low-key tone while bringing in some much needed vitality. The title track is comparatively boisterous, even, despite some very on-the-nose lyrical content about change and past identity. Other tracks like "Week Without You" infuse a steady and infectious beat with some unexpectedly solid harmonization, yet cannot match the pitch-perfect radio friendly feeling of "Malibu" or "Younger Now." These songs show off not only the best of the album, but Miley as a songwriter. They're positively lovely; genuine and comfortable tracks with warm vocals and rich tones. They feel almost too natural, speaking volumes of her ability to make a standout track without resorting to theatrics or overt flair.
At its worst, Younger Now
is inoffensively bland, wasted Dolly Parton talent aside. Songs like "Love Someone" are dead on arrival with their lifeless energy and forgettable hooks. They require repeated listens to even register some sort of familiarity, other wise dissipating from the mind completely. "Thinkin'" on the other hand is the closest the album comes to a legitimately bad
track. Miley echoes herself repeatedly in obnoxious fashion until it becomes grating. Were it not for her smoky vocal performance and intermittent harmony, the song would be entirely unbearable.
Luckily, most of Younger Now
is completely palatable. It's all together banal in too many places for it to leave a lasting impression, however. It's a shame, really, seeing Miley finally become the singer she was always meant to be, only for it to occur on such a mixed bag of an album.