I have been listening to “Slide Away” by Miley Cyrus nonstop since its August 16th release, and by now I know all the words and have no intention of listening to anything else.
I am not a Miley super-fan, however. Granted, her Miami stop for the Bangerz tour in 2014 was the first concert I attended without parental supervision, and I did catch the Hannah Montana concert movie on opening night back in 2008, and The Last Song was the first movie that made me cry (but I think that is more to the credit of Nicholas Spark’s mastery of emotional sadism than anything else), and I always found myself rooting for her scrappy team on The Voice during her stint on the show. BUT, I repeat, I am NOT a ranging Miley stan! In fact, hillbilly homegirl has egregiously disappointed me on numerous occasions throughout her whirlwind career- both musically and socially. From the travesty that is “Party in the USA” (come at me, but all I hear are nails on a chalkboard), to hijacking hip-hop culture for her best-selling album to-date to then abandon the genre after expressing typecasting it as nothing more than misogynistic and excessive, then there’s the pictures of her climbing endangered Joshua Trees, and a starring role in one of the most negatively reviewed installment of Black Mirror, artistic missteps and critical ire are to be somewhat expected by Cyrus at this point.
But nothing, and I do not say this lightly, nothing has offended me more than her most recent EP She is Coming. Everything about this collection of songs is just wrong and proved that Cyrus has no guidance when it comes to craft and will adjust her public persona simply to boost sales.
The proof is in the music. After ditching hip-hop she went extra weird with the rightfully quiet release of the 2015 experimental album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, which I’d rather just not even talk about.
Following this period and her position as a Voice coach, Cyrus then adopted a more tranquil persona and made serval late-night appearances vowing that she was drug-free and abounded the wild-child energy of her previous efforts to be a calm, folksy singer. Her 2017 offering Younger Now, was, except for viral hit “Malibu,” mostly overlooked and failed to make an impact seemingly anywhere so she flipped the switch yet again for the first of a threatened trio of EPs by swerving back into the trap realm that she claimed to longer identify. Only this time it didn’t produce anything even mildly as interesting as her 2013 blockbuster Bangerz. Instead, we get the unsettling explanation of what it means to have “Cattitude,” the drunken, lyrical mess of whatever “Party Up the Street” is supposed to be, and confessions to a concerning dependence of substances on “D.R.E.A.M.”, the EP is a confusing reversion to the old habits Cyrus claimed to have abandoned just a two years prior on Younger Now. Even the best song, “Unholy” only earns this distinction because of the heavy-hitting beat and a few vocal high-points. So, what went wrong? Why wasn’t this first installment in the threatening trio of EPs as good as Bangerz? One word: ballads.
Thus, I return to “Slide Away,” a heartfelt and truly inspired offering about cutting one’s loses in a failed long-term relationship conveniently released less than a week following news of Cyrus’ separation from husband of only 9 months (but on-again-off-again beau of nearly a decade) Liam Hemsworth. The alleged wrongdoing that caused a beloved relationship’s demise ranges everywhere from Liam’s various addictions (as referenced in the lyrics of “Slide Away” as well as the cover art) to accusations of infidelity on Cyrus’ part (as speculated based on a rumored romance with Kaitlynn Carter). Obviously, neither party is jumping to confirm the cause of the split but if one thing is clear it’s that these two are absolutely dunzo (insert 75 crying emojis here) and Cyrus’ latest track proves it.
Sonically, the track is one of the singer’s greatest triumphs to-date with raw, confessional lyrics, a moving chorus, and an airy throwback vibe provided by producers Mike Will Made It and Andrew Wyatt. Meditative and symphonic in nature, this song is more reminiscent of something of the brit-pop era than anything Cyrus has attempted before and that’s what makes it so exciting and refreshing.
“Slide Away” feels both timely and timeless as it references all the strongest points of Cyrus’ discography. Stylishly fusing the quiet vocal storms of “Wrecking Ball,” “Adore You,” and “Malibu” with her knack for sleek throwback vibes as heard on her cover of “Jolene,” the re-rendering of “See You Again,” and Mark Ronson collaboration “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” is a true accomplishment and a sign that she may finally be getting the hang of who she is as an artist. If she continues this approach to her music, meaning if she stays utterly true to herself, then I can probably get over the Joshua Tree thing (I mean the girl is a huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and we are all with our faults).
Cyrus is best when she stays in her own lane, a lane which can be described as “bangers about Liam.” Just kidding, kind of.
words_shianne salazar. photo_the cheat sheet