“Younger Now”: Miley Cyrus Just Ain’t the Same These Days (Review)

Miley’s younger now (in spirit, at least) — and seemingly happier, too.

“No one stays the same…”

Evolving one’s identity gradually over a period of time is a tricky thing to master in the pop world. (Not everyone can be Madonna, after all.)

By now, in case “Mailbu” wasn’t a strong enough visual and sonic indication, you should know: Miley Cyrus is scaling things back, stripping things down (musically, this time) and settling into her roots. (They’ve grown back.)

Miley’s return to twangier, more “wholesome” territory has not come without criticism for abandoning and/or briefly accessorizing herself with hip-hop culture just a few years prior. There’s been backlash aplenty.

But for fans who’ve been along for the ride pre-Bangerz, the acoustic Backyard Sessions post-Bangerz, and especially Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz afterward, this breezier era might not seem quite as strange or sudden as it does to those who only really paid attention when the hell-raiser came twerking her way into pop culture. (She knows public perception is her own fault, and she seems a little bummed out that she’ll forever be known for riding naked on a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer in her early twenties.)

Onward, then.

“Younger Now” is the title track off of the ever-evolving pop singer’s forthcoming LP, released today (Aug. 18) ahead of the album in September. The track was co-crafted with Oren Yoel, who also produced “Malibu,” as well as several Dead Petz songs, including “Space Bootz” and “BB Talk.”

As with most of Miley’s self-penned lyrics, “Younger Now” is fairly to-the-point: “change is a thing you can count on.” Miley’s feeling different these days, and that’s that on that.

The Elvis Presley-inspired accompanying visual, co-directed by Miley and her constant collaborator Diane Martel, is a quintessentially Miley-fied blend of earnest emotion and glossy pop strangeness, recreating the G.I. Blues puppet scene and emulating The King’s hip-thrusting moves. That hoedown throwdown at the end, backed by a fleet of older back-up dancers, is an oddly comforting treat. (The video also comes at the same time as the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death.)

Even though it’s not who I am, I’m not afraid of who I used to be,” she croons across the dreamy guitar strums.

Whichever past she’s referring to — those cookie-cutter Hannah Montana days as a Disney princess, the awkward emancipation of Can’t Be Tamed, the tongue-wagging Bangerz era, or the day before yesterday — that’s not Miley today. And in a few years, she’ll be different again.

One could only hope none of us remains the same, either.

“Younger Now” was released on August 18. (Apple Music / Spotify)

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