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‘Malibu': Miley Cyrus Centers Herself and Chases the Sun (Review)

Miley Malibu
RCA Records

These days, Miley Cyrus is a little less high on purp, a little more “Soak Up the Sun.”

“Malibu,” out today (May 11), is the lead single from Miley’s forthcoming LP due out later this year, marking the grand reintroduction of the Bangerz pop princess to the world, and ushering in a stark contrast in image and sound — a switch-up which has already earned the “23” twerker some criticism for backing away from hip-hop.

The sun-soaked comeback, an ode to partner-in-crime Liam Hemsworth, finds Miley in a more settled, more laidback place — Malibu, specifically — her relaxed voice casually gliding across dreamy guitars and a propulsive beat.

Sometimes I get so scared of what I can’t understand, but here I am, next to you / The sky’s more blue in Malibu,” she sweetly croons.

The track is most reminiscent of her introspective, singer-songwriter styling on 2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, but stripped of the experimental mixtape’s campiest and corniest lyrical elements (an ode to her dead blowfish, this is not) and polished with a more digestible pop-rock sheen.

I never would have believed you if three years ago, you told me I’d be here writing this song. But here I am, next to you…

“Malibu” might not be as obvious of a signature “she’s just bein’ Miley” party banger as “Party in the U.S.A.,” “We Can’t Stop” or “Can’t Be Tamed,” but it certainly feels like the natural, more mature continuation of her most sincere moments, from “The Climb” to “Wrecking Ball” to “Adore You” to “Lighter.” And if anyone’s ever watched her acoustic Backyard Sessions from years ago, this sound really shouldn’t come as a surprise.

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Fittingly, the accompanying Diane Martel and Miley co-directed music video is about as stripped-down and back-to-basics as it gets, as the singer — her blonde-dyed hair all but grown-out to its natural brunette — gets her “Cherish” on, twirling on the California beach, striking a pose atop the rocky landscape and smiling adoringly at us in fields of grass and flowers. A Happy Hippie, indeed.

“I don’t think those people are going to listen to me when I’m sitting there in nipple pasties, you know?” she told Billboard of the new Miley era.

“All the ­nipple pastie s–t, that’s what I did because I felt it was part of my political movement, and that got me to where I am now. I’m evolving, and I surround myself with smart people that are evolved.”

Watch above.

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Next: Miley Cyrus Responds to 'Billboard' Cover Story Backlash

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