Likes: Week Without You, Miss You So Much, Bad Mood, Inspired
Overall: Miley returns to her pop-rock/country roots; delivers sincerity
After 2008's pop-rock Breakout, singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus diverted from any artistic potential she showed to do a demonstration of the "teen-to-adult-star" playbook. In 2010, she traded out her guitar for a techno kit, hoping to prove she Can't Be Tamed by doing her best Britney Spears impression. When that didn't work, she problematically relied on hip-hop's counterculture stigma to shed her image as a Disney star with 2013's Bangerz. Now that her (unnecessary) mission is accomplished, she's released the kind of album she should have been doing all along with the heartfelt Younger Now. Written and produced exclusively by Cyrus and Oren Yoel (Cyrus' godmother and country legend Dolly Parton worked on the exception, "Rainbowland"), its sincerity is insulated. The perspective isn't convoluted or contaminated by a plethora of contributors (by the way, Yoel was a previous partner on the Bangerz single "Adore You").
Cyrus' submissions about personal growth (ex. "Younger Now"), the world around her (ex. "Inspired") and romantic relationships emanate like poetry written on a late-night after mulling over life. The resentment and discontent is seething (ex. "Love Someone"), the longing is doleful (ex. "Miss You So Much"), and the adoration is boundlessly love-struck (ex. "I Would Die for You"). "Thinkin'" is the only glossy track that isn't a pool of feelings. The lyrics' touchy energy is underpinned by the musical production. The sentimental sweetness has a dramatic crust, as acoustic rock is happily married with templates of classic country and western-film score (ex. "Bad Mood"). Cyrus is so cozily at home on this record and it's palpable.