Watching Miley Cyrus grow up over the years has been painful. Her music career began on a TV show as Hannah Montana, who was a regular girl by day and a country pop star by night. However, Cyrus quickly succumbed to the public pressure most child stars endure, and her cutesy pop star image collapsed into an alter ego entirely antithetical to who she was before. Her last album’s content predominantly featured drugs, sex and other illicit activities, a lifestyle she not only sang about, but also demonstrated publicly.
Refer to her infamous VMA performance with Robin Thicke in 2013. Gross.
“Younger Now” is her revival. Cyrus turned another 180 and embraced the increasingly popular pop–folk genre this album is embodying. The album’s songs mix rock, pop and folk — a refreshing change from her previous bass-blaring, electronically–mixed songs filled with explicit references. However, Cyrus should have picked a theme and run with it for this album. The songs differ so much in style that the album almost has a genre identity crisis. Even though the songs mix a bit haphazardly in style, each is different, so the listener gets an eclectic taste of music.
The album’s title track, “Younger Now,” describes Cyrus’ journey. The first line, “It feels like I just woke up, like all this time, I’ve been asleep,” explains her own understanding of how abrupt this change in musical style is. But the song goes on to explain that changing for the better is rejuvenating and has made her feel younger. While the song is a little hokey, and the spunky drum beat in combination with the inspirational lyrics could be found on a Disney movie soundtrack, it sends a clear message: Cyrus has grown — take a listen to what she has to offer. Cyrus also embraces her new folk-hippy identity with the song “Inspired.” The song has a lofty, nostalgic vibe that calls listeners to “save the bees,” which is much different than the pop focus on the rest of the album.
For country–folk fans, the most unexpected and enjoyable song on the album is “Rainbowland,” which she sings with her godmother, country music star Dolly Parton. The classic, old-timey guitar in the song defines its style, and Parton’s delicate vocals perfectly package it as a jolly country tune. Parton’s vocals juxtaposed with Cyrus’ more modern melodies produce a perfect pop–country crossover that’s just modern and classic enough to make sense.
With this album, Cyrus has defined herself as an artist and not an immature child who creates absurd music. “Younger Now” gives Cyrus back her authenticity and artistic integrity — something fans will surely take note of.