Miley Cyrus is 24, but she's Younger Now. No, not less old than she was on her Hannah Montana debut (13 years old) or 2013's project in cultural appropriation, Bangerz (age 20), but somehow still younger.
Released on Sept. 29, Younger Now is Cyrus' sixth studio album, with Miley turning in her pair of Jordan sneakers and matching Bulls jersey for an Elvis pompadour and bedazzled country jumpsuit.
Though the outfit is different, Miley's music remains lackluster. "Younger Now," the album's titular track, finds her addressing her past from a position of clarity.
"Feels like I just woke up/ Like all this time I've been asleep," Cyrus sings with a drawn-out, faux-Lana Del Rey sound. "Even though it's not who I am/ I'm not afraid of who I used to be."
The Bangerz era, unfortunately for the newly awake Cyrus, was not any sort of tricky dream. Though the singer attempts to separate herself from her hip-hop-fueled 2013 debacle, she mistakenly focuses on aesthetic rather than content. "Younger Now" feels pitchy and forced, a grinding open to an 11-track, 41-minute album that lacks direction.
"Rainbowland," a duet between Cyrus and the legendary Dolly Parton, fails miserably to be the John Lennon "Imagine"-type track it desperately wants to be. Its fast-paced hook with dueling vocals and country twang sounds like the theme song to a once-enjoyed children's show that turns out to be eerily creepy in hindsight.
"Livin' in a rainbowland," sing Cyrus and Parton with a tune that almost guarantees they square-danced along, "Where you and I go hand in hand."
However, Younger Now finds the closest thing to a cohesive sound in the three tracks that follow. "Week Without You" is Cyrus' predictable list of things she would do if she were to be without her man for a week, performed with a subtle swagger and confidence that carries through in a Taylor Swift fashion.
While they do serve as album standouts, the titles of next two tracks, "Miss You So Much" and "I Would Die for You" make it seem as if the "Week Without" her boyfriend did not go as planned.
The title of Younger Now, considering the album's content, appears to mean Miley is regressing back to her pre-Bangerz lifestyle. Once again, she prefers idyllic Tennessee over fast-paced Los Angeles, tales of boomboxes outside open windows over molly-based euphoria. At just 24, Cyrus is in the process of her third career reinvention, making her feel aged beyond her years.
1 out of 4 shells.