Although many pop artists change their image from project to project, few make as massive leaps and bounds as Miley Cyrus, and on her newest album, Cyrus has tried and failed once again.
Whether it’s the teen idol of her early years, the provocative pop star from the Bangerz era or the downright insane psychedelic personality from her collaboration with the Flaming Lips, every year brings a different, distinct iteration of the Cyrus brand. Now, with Younger Now, the 24-year-old opts for a softer pop sound, bringing in country influences in a failed attempt to pander to her original fans and establish a more mature image.
Of all of Cyrus’ miraculous transitions devised by label professionals, this one makes the least sense. Just a little over a year ago, Cyrus performed dressed in a diaper while sucking on a pacifier and riding a massive inflatable hot dog, singing about what can only be explained as a strange acid trip. But now, listeners are expected to believe she’s magically transformed into the most mature 24-year-old of all time, longing for her youth and a simple life.
Surprisingly, Cyrus and her team put forth a strong effort to convince listeners of this transformation — it’s pretty easy to be tricked into thinking this album is good. After one spin of this record, it sounds like it could be Miley Cyrus’ debut as a serious pop artist. With more due diligence, however, it becomes apparent that Younger Now is nothing of the sort.
Employing simple tricks, such as a feature from Dolly Parton on “Rainbowland” or often-pandering lyrics on tracks such as “Miss You So Much” and “She’s Not Him,” Cyrus’ main goal with this album is to prove maturity through an outward facing, down-to-earth personality while focusing on renewal and simpler times.
On almost every one of the 11 songs on Younger Now, Cyrus resorts to cliche lines, canned phrasing and basic pop song structure to accomplish this goal, crafting a run-of-the-mill pop experience marketed toward as large of an audience as possible. Songs such as “Malibu,” the lead single of Younger Now, use imagery in an attempt to weave a tale of renewed love, resorting to simple stories of long walks on the beach and watching the sunset. The worst line of the song comes before the second chorus when Cyrus commits an unforgivable sin of the music world, referencing the lyrics she’s writing when she sings, “I would’ve never believed you if three years ago you told me I’d be here writing this song.”
In an attempt to mix things up, Cyrus writes most of her own lyrics in the country spirit, but that element falls flat on its face as well. Country relies on its storytelling — some of the best artists in the genre thrive in bringing the listener into their world and laying out exciting and engaging tales of joy and heartbreak. Cyrus manages to bring none of this onto Younger Now, making the listener question Cyrus’ roots in country music beyond the obvious link with her father Billy Ray Cyrus.
Song after song, Younger Now puts forth failed efforts, one after another. It’s never been a particularly difficult or joyless task to listen to one of Cyrus’ country pop albums, but this project’s novelty wears out as quickly as the taste of Bazooka bubble gum. It’s painfully boring to have to listen to all 41 minutes of its runtime, as boring as chewing rubber. Not a single song is worth listening to more than twice.
Anyone who is lazy enough to submit and believe the shtick Cyrus and her team devised will enjoy the pop tunes of Younger Now. Everyone else is going to roll their eyes and move on with life.