Cyrus makes primitive return to pop music with Endless Summer Vacation


Nrithya Mahesh

Miley Cyrus released her eighth studio album, Endless Summer Vacation, on March 10 with lead single “Flowers” reaching a peak of No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Staff writer Anvita Bondada believes the album fails to showcase Cyrus’s talents and potential.

Anvita Bondada, Staff Writer

As the woman emerges from the ashes of her fallen home, she takes a long, hard look back on her life and relationships and begins to embrace her individuality and self worth. 

Press play on that feeling—this is what singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus cultivates into a 43-minute, 13-song pop record, Endless Summer Vacation. Healing from her messy, publicized divorce, it is Cyrus’s comeback, and an exemplification of her power.

In February, Endless Summer Vacation’s lead single “Flowers” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 charts. But amidst an enjoyable listening experience, the album fails to distinguish itself in a pile of the last decades’ forgotten pop records. As the first glimpse we have of Cyrus’s new era, the song introduced the theme of her newly developed self confidence but failed to convey the depth of her emotions, compromising its intendedly raw feel.

While fairly enjoyable, most of the songs on this album sound very similar to each other, and none of the songs stuck out to me. It sounded as if she wanted to make an album with a sound reminiscent of her old albums such as Bangerz. This backfired for her as they didn’t sound new, and took away from her “new me” angle.

This is a recurring theme throughout the album, as with smoother, summer-type beats, Cyrus’s signature rasp and energy was drowned out. On the heels of an artistic high with her previous album Plastic Hearts, Cyrus attempts to trace back to her pop roots. The album feels as if she has taken three steps back in her creative growth, and does not relay her artistry to its fullest potential. 

Opening with lead single, “Flowers,” Cyrus sets the stage for the powerful, individualistic energy of the entire album, reflecting on her past relationship and how she is better off alone: “I can take myself dancing, yeah / I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can.

Cyrus continues to assert her self-worth in other songs such as “Island,” which features how she is her own spirit, and marches to the beat of her own drum. As she belts lyrics such as, “Am I stranded on an island / Or have I landed in paradise?” and “So close to heaven but so far from everyone” she emphasizes the impact of different mindsets, and how she learned to love herself after a difficult breakup. A song highlighting her personality and spirit shouldn’t have trouble distinguishing itself from other pop songs, but its inconspicuous sound doesn’t achieve that.

Cyrus also addresses her tumultuous marriage, and turbulent past relationships. She highlights her aversion for commitment and traditional relationship norms on “You” and “Rose Colored Lenses.” She also explores the topic of heartbreak and infidelity in “Muddy Feet feat. Sia,” the intense ninth track on the album. With pop singer Sia’s vocals in the chorus, Cyrus sings about the fallacies of her marriage and her partner’s betrayal tarnishing their relationship. She describes her memories with the lyrics, “You smell like perfume that I didn’t purchase, now I know why you’ve been closing the curtains,” and harnesses the strength in her voice to express her rage. Muddy Feet has a different sound which leaned more towards rock ’n’ roll, but the production is subpar, and does not sound authentic.

She also does not shy away from showing her vulnerability in other aspects of her life. “Thousand Miles ft. Brandi Carlisle” and “Wonder Woman” delve into her personal hardships. “Thousand Miles” reflects on Cyrus’s close friend whom she lost to suicide. She sings “Told myself I closed that door, but I’m right back here again” which further explains how she doesn’t believe that she can move on after her loss. Brandi Carlisle may have been chosen to accompany Cyrus on this track because it is known that she went through a similar experience, and supported Cyrus vocally and emotionally on this pop ballad. However, the beat of this emotional song is still reminiscent of yet another I’ve heard before. Cyrus also hones in her emotional side with “Wonder Woman” which references the loss of her grandmother and the influential women in her life. The lyrics, “Lived a thousand lives, never know she’s hopeless, only when she cries” describe her grandmother as Cyrus reminisces her memory.

A strong focal point in Endless Summer Vacation is the strength of Cyrus’s vocals. “Jaded” and “Rose Colored Lenses” both exemplify her soaring vocal range and add more of Cyrus’s bold persona. As she sings the words, “I’m sorry that you’re jaded, I could’ve taken you places, you’re lonely now and I hate it” you can hear vocals reminiscent of her previous rock and roll motif.

Endless Summer Vacation is a record which emphasizes how Cyrus is breaking free of tradition and explores her own path. However, it seems counterintuitive to release an album about her “new” self when its songs are just a shell of her previous work from the 2010s. Despite its name, its cultural impact is anything but endless. 

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