She Might Call The Album ‘Younger Now’, But Miley Cyrus Is Officially A Very Mature Artist
As of the late 2017 release of Younger Now, Miley Cyrus had established herself as one of the most mercurial Pop stars of her age range, certainly as ambitious as Lady Gaga, if not a little behind in a race that started before Cyrus was old enough to make mature musical decisions. This maturity developed quickly, and while she can be forgiven for the teen friendly Pop of her first several albums, it seems to me that things got halfway serious with the very commercially successful Bangerz, all the way serious with the risky experimentation but much more aesthetically complex Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, and undeniably serious, but in a drastically different way, on the Countrypolitan masterpiece Younger Now. I am a so-so Country fan as I often tell people, but am really passionate about the interesting chords and image conjuring power that neo-traditional versions can sometime possess. Cyrus’ efforts here transcend Pop, yet don’t completely bow down to a strict Country code, and rather, the Country Pop sub genre, if we can start from there as a classification, is turned on its head here through the infusion of Dream Pop, New Wave, Hippy Revivalism, Dance Pop, and Electric Rock. To be so young and to have mastered all these disparate sounds into one cohesive experience is quite a feat, one I am fully appreciating now.
Excellent Musical Decisions Are Tied To Tennessean Musical Roots
Miley Cyrus, hailing from Tennessee, returns to the music of her heartland-homeland, reminding me that her Dad is indeed Billy Ray Cyrus, and her Godmother is Dolly Parton. Speaking of her Godmother, they do a wonderful duet together on “Rainbowland”, an only slightly modern production of a really old Country Pop hop-along track that feels lifted whilst completely intact from Dolly Parton’s heyday in the late seventies. I love how their voices blend, or rather, Parton’s, whose is higher pitched and classic, doesn’t compete so much as infuse with Cyrus’ much huskier and low vocalization. This song will put a big spring in your step. “Malibu” is a video and a song that hooked me a couple years ago onto Cyrus’ new Country vibe, yet I recognized even then that it was more Hippy Folk than anything else – a style way more subdued than the explosive Synth Pop that I associated with her earlier work, yet still containing a great sense of Pop not in its effect but rather its approachable stanzas and chorus melody. The mysteriously titled “She’s Not Him” is a large expansive sounding ballad, held together with a echoing tambourines and rhythmic acoustic guitar playing, but it is the lyrics that really hold my attention, as they are at first confusing, yet I begin to piece together my own narrative – that of a woman who is exiting a lesbian relationship because as lovely as the girl is who she is with, there is a persistent void that only her ex boyfriend’s love and masculinity can fill. The song is cast in a lonesome western sound, remorseful about how much the truth hurts.
The Modern Touches Are Never Overdone
Besides the clip clop of a horse hoof rhythm, the western elements are overridden by electric guitar strumming and modern vocals, which really drive the warm upbeat two stepper “Week Without You.” It is a bit jangly like a Beatles song I think – written in their classic Pop style. The Dream Pop elements echo in a long drawn out way over a slightly peppy Folk strumming on “Miss You so Much”, with Cyrus’ singing like the most lonesome of cowgirls. Dream Pop Alt Rock floats on “I Would Die for You”, with a taste of hop-along Country Swing, and deliciously reverbed vocal twang that matches the guitar color. Great sultry Dance Rock is delivered straight up no chaser on “Thinkin’”, where Cyrus’ character obsesses over the absence of her main squeeze when all she wants to do is be with him all the time – if he would just pick up the phone and stop avoiding her. The lyrics are thus delivered with a mouthful per stanza, repeating the same passages in the same way her mind is repeating the same insecurities. The beat is funky and modern, with hardly a trace of Country-ness. In fact, I would have settled on this being the most Pop-like of tracks, if it weren’t for the hard hits from dance groove “Love Someone”, which I swear, subconsciously lifts the bass guitar groove of “All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, which is quite succinctly buried in all of the other mostly modern groovy sounds.
Having Already Tackled The Big Skies Of Country, What’s Next, A Return To Space?
Some of my favorite songs would have to be “Inspired”, and “Younger Now”. Miley Cyrus sings her heart out with unlimited vibrato on “Inspired”, as the melody snakes its way along an uncertain, winding path, exhibiting unusual notes and chords, all the while wrapped in the flag of immense Americana, from the expert fiddle playing to the lonely slide guitars. I am fascinated with intelligently designed and somber sounding music such as this, as it reminds me of one of my favorite Pop Country crossover acts, K.D. Lang, and even exhibits the same hopeful upbeat string parts she often employs to lift a certain low vibe out of its wallowing. Alternative Rock and New Wave grace the bittersweet anthem of the title track “Younger Now”, where Cyrus states “change is a thing you can count on”, which is tied to enlightenment rather than the loss of something - thus the album’s theme, that Cyrus will always change and therefore will be forever young, in spite of physical looks or size of fan base, I surmise. This artistic tour de force has nailed the Western vibe for now, and I feel she has already gone a bit spacey on her previous two albums, so I’m not sure what she would tackle next, yet if her new feature on Marc Ronson’s “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is any indication, her next album might be Disco, albeit with a Country twang. Sounds cool af to me.
2. Track List (11)
3. Official (10)
4. Live (5)
5. Featuring Remixes (3)
7. Similar Albums (1)
8. Similar Artists (21)
9. Album Info
- Miley Cyrus