I sat down intending to write an ode to Hope Sandoval’s deep and hazy songs, but a quick wonder about who I should compare this summer voice to unexpectedly brought me to Miley Cyrus. Brought me back to her, rather.
She now has an ongoing thrill in her voice and her pout is framed by angular cheeks and jawbones. Although her surfer hair in the video for recent hit ‘Malibu’ shows-off platinum blonde tips as if to say, “make no mistake, ‘Wrecking Ball’ did happen”, the rebel we knew four years ago seems long forgotten. ‘Malibu’, a synthless ‘Only Girl in the World’-esque ballad made to fit right in with the trends of this past summer, can easily be placed next to any of Justin Bieber’s latest songs: it takes a while to realise that these voices belong to formerly scandalous kids we used to instantly recognise and skip.
Before we get to enjoy the new Miley then, we must unlearn the instinctive skip move. And that, for me, came through Miley’s earlier Backyard Sessions. The intimate setting and choice of classics like ‘Lilac Wine‘ and Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ left plenty of space for the singer’s country roots to make their way to the surface, making Miley’s character a relatable one again. From there, the link to her recent release Younger Now is easy.
While the anonymous pop style of this new album flattens the smoky voice which is typical for every good member of the Cyrus clan, it at least brings back the smiley face that gave the singer her name, rubbing out the frown Bangerz had left on my forehead.