Younger Now

Younger Now

“No one stays the same,” a 24-year-old Miley Cyrus confidently croons on the opening title track to her sixth album. This simple statement holds a world of meaning to the child star turned pop dynamo who has had to defend (or apologize for) many of her moves, public and private. Since releasing her grip from Disney, Cyrus has been on a continual road to self-discovery that she’s unabashedly shared with the world. On 2017’s Younger Now, she sheds that rebellious layer, exposing her Appalachian roots while grounding herself in the soft Southern California sand. “Even though it's not who I am, I'm not afraid of who I used to be,” she continues over a trotting rhythm. The track represents her next step toward liberation—the most constant theme in her ever-changing catalog. Cyrus co-wrote and co-produced all 11 tracks, choosing to give the album a tender, more pastel touch compared to the in-your-face neon flash of 2013’s huge pop breakout Bangerz and 2015’s psych freak-out Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. And unlike those collaboration-heavy albums, she invites only one guest star to this rodeo—her godmother, Dolly Parton. The country icon pops in to give Miley a voice message—”I’m excited about singin’ with you,” she says—before the pair jump into the rosy hoedown “Rainbowland.” Another sentiment from Parton closes out the track, suggesting a love song instead: “You probably wrote it about some boy you loved, didn’t ya?” she jokes. Parton knows her goddaughter well, as the rest of Younger Now fluctuates between pure infatuation (the breezy “Malibu,” dedicated to her then-fiancé, Liam Hemsworth) and painful heartache (the stomping “Bad Mood”), with a little teasing and taunting for good measure (the sneering “Week Without You”). It’s clear that Cyrus views love in the same manner as herself—that “change is the thing you can count on,” as she states on the title track. So when she sings, “Hoping that you’ll stay the same and nothing will change” on “Malibu,” she already knows it’s an impossible dream.

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