A creatively spun phrase has been utilized by music critics on Variety and other listeners of Miley Cyrus’ new music style; claiming that it’s not similar to what the artist herself has coined in the past as a “wrecking ball,” critics would rather describe it as a pendulum that swings back and forth between genres. You can begin to understand this comparison if you reflect on the album discography Miley Cyrus has published so far under RCA and Columbia Records, which follows her career post-Disney: her fourth album Bangerz launched radio smash hits that allowed Cyrus to rise into her pop-diva status; Younger Now brought back the artist into her country pop roots; and finally, her previously released album Plastic Hearts broke through the prior molds with an experimentation on electric pop.
When placing Miley Cyrus’ newest album Endless Summer Vacation upon this visual scale, listeners can observe that it never assumes a steady position, as its style switches from these previous explorations in a more segmented form within its track list. Perhaps this is what makes the artistic journey of this album so intriguing, since it represents a conglomeration of the methods utilized prior by the artist and leaves the audience wondering how Cyrus wishes her story to continue.
Cyrus makes a blatant entrance to the first portion of the album with a declaration of independence from a prior relationship. The viral single “Flowers” opens up Cyrus’ album in a bold manner due to its famous allusions to her and Liam Hemsworth’s past marriage, with fans deciphering this reference through Cyrus’ music video of this track. Sampling used for this track can also serve as a pointed message by Cyrus in this track: the utilization of Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” serving as a method to paraphrase her love for herself, and the late 1970s song “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor used to assert her confidence. The production put into this track alone speaks volumes for what Cyrus believes in the aftermath of this public relationship, which explains the internet frenzy following its release.
However, succeeding tracks “Jaded,” “Rose Colored Lenses,” and “Thousand Miles” present a reflection that dives more deeply on the hit song’s bold statements, with admittances of being remorseful on the fateful end of a relationship and the realizations of being misguided in the toxicity of it all. Lyrics like “Now I’ve had time to think it over / We’re much older and the bone’s too big to bury / Oh, isn’t it a shame that it ended like that? / Said goodbye forever, but you never unpacked” are combined with great emotion packed in Miley’s voice, which I believe to be one of her most underrated skills as a singer. The soft rock feel of these tracks is evident through the guitar and drum parts, which serve as the sole accompaniment for Cyrus in these tracks and allow her voice to bask in the limelight. It’s a method that’s both gentle and intimate for Cyrus to narrate her personal stories and demonstrate her lyrical abilities with limited distractions.
My personal favorites of the album were “River” and “Violet Chemistry” due to the fact that they echo the style used in Miley Cyrus’ previous album Plastic Hearts, which I grew to love due to it meshing well with Miley’s tonality. It’s a genre that I think Miley should expand further upon, because it still has proven to be a commercial success for listeners. These tracks present more instrumental variety than the prior tracks to allow for a more head-bopping feel in the midpoint portion of the album. Both songs serve as a beckoning call for Cyrus’ lover by painting visual images of opposites attracting, making comparisons of a dessert colliding with a roaring river, or blues meeting a fiery red to make an intriguing and charged violet cocktail on a busy dance floor. These songs definitely serve as strong standalones that I would love to see as additional hit singles following the release of this new album.
The second leg of Endless Summer Vacation is the short end of the stick for listeners. Tracks like “Wonder Woman” and the conclusion of the album being the demo version of “Flowers” serve as a reminder that the track list could have been sequenced better to allow for a more enjoyable listen. These slow tracks feel like they stagger the pace of the album’s track list to an inconclusive stop, which I felt was slightly disappointing. However, featured artists like Sia and Brandi Charlie provide flavor to this album in a way I did not anticipate. Listeners should appreciate the selection the artist has made for accompaniments, though they merely serve as minor assistance in these tracks.
Miley Cyrus’ Endless Summer Vacation has proven to be a slow grow for listeners, who may take a few additional listeners to find songs they love. Cyrus has proven to have a great flair with her storytelling methods to the general public, which has made the public eager to hear what else is in store for the artist to display. I would love for Cyrus to experiment more with other genres to showcase the versatility of her voice, but we may have to patiently wait for the artist to make this decision herself.