Miley Cyrus is someone that has been a true chameleon in her artistry. She is not someone that can be put into a box or confined to a limited number of ideas or styles of art. From her look and public image to her music, it is amazing how many times Miley Cyrus has been able to completely transform herself. If you go back and take a look at each of her eras, it is one person could be so diverse. It is almost as if she morphed into a new human every couple of years considering how different she is from era to era. It seems like she has gotten a bit calmer and less provocative as the years have gone on. Early in her career, she would shock the world through her looks and her music, but she seems way less interested in doing that kind of stuff anymore. One thing about Miley is she has always been an excellent singer with a truly unique voice. Think what you want about her art throughout the years, but it is not possible to deny her talent as a singer. Following her acclaimed album Plastic Hearts which came out at the end of 2020, Miley Cyrus is back with a new record called Endless Summer Vacation. Here is my opinion on this project. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about Endless Summer Vacation, and please comment on what your favorite songs from the project are.
Before I start the review, I wanted to highlight that Miley has stated this album is divided into AM and PM sections. The AM section on the album is described by Miley as “a potential of new possibilities.” The first song of the AM section is ‘Flowers,’ which was the only single released before this album came out. This song was very popular when it was released at the beginning of the year, as it topped multiple music charts and broke multiple streaming records. I am not going to lie, as popular as this song is, it is pretty underwhelming to me. The instrumental has a light Pop-Rock feeling that is kind of bland to me. To be honest, it just sounds like a sped-up version of Bruno Mars’ classic hit ‘When I Was Your Man.’ Miley does not do anything super special with her vocal performance on this track as well. Do not get me wrong, her vocals are nice and fit the track, but they do not add much to the song. On ‘Flowers,’ Miley is singing about not needing her ex-husband to be happy. ‘Jaded’ has a somewhat similar Pop-Rock sound to the last song, but it is a lot more engaging in my opinion. This track has a Dream-Pop Shoegaze sound that reminds me a lot of bands like Beach House. The melody and way the song is produced make the song sound so atmospheric. ‘Jaded’ makes me feel like I am floating when i hear it; the song transports me to another world because of how sweet and heavenly it sounds. Miley’s vocal performance is very raspy and powerful on ‘Jaded.’ She kind of brings the listener back down to earth because it is easy to hear the emotion in her voice. As great as this instrumental is, Miley’s vocals make the song that much better. On ‘Jaded,’ is singing about not speaking up about her issues during a bad relationship. ‘Rose Colored Lenses’ has a cool sound that morphs multiple different styles of Rock music into one. There are elements of the instrumental that are similar to the Shoegaze feeling the last song had, but the instrumental has elements of Post-Punk and Prog-Rock. It is like they took a traditional Dream-Pop instrumental and gave it the bassline from a Post-Punk song and added a guitar riff from a 70s Progressive Rock song. It gives the song an interesting sound that makes it stand out. Miley’s vocals are not exceptional on this song like they were on the last track, but the raspiness of her voice does fit the sound of the song very well. On ‘Rose Colored Lenses,’ Miley is singing about trying to stay optimistic and upbeat in a new relationship.
On ‘Thousand Miles,’ which features Brandi Carlisle, Miley Cyrus goes back to her roots. This is a Country-Pop track that reminds me of music from this genre that came out in the late 2000s and early 2010s. When I hear this song, it reminds me of artists like Sugarland, Lady A, and Rascal Flatts. There are things about this instrumental that make it stand out from that music and make the song sound more modern, though. For one, the way the song is missed gives it a Dream-Pop feeling that goes well with the last three tracks. There are also elements bout the production of this song that gives it a modern Dance-Pop feeling, including some weird sound effects that come in during the bridge of the song and in the song’s outro. The vocal performances on this are excellent, and they give the song a ton of life. I particularly like the parts on the pre-chorus and the chorus where Brandi Carlisle and Miley Cyrus are harmonizing, as the high pitch of Brandi and the lower pitch of Miley sound so nice together. Miley has stated that ‘Thousand Miles’ is a song she wrote as an ode to a friend who committed suicide. ‘You’ is a song that continues the Country-Pop sound that the last song had. This song has an Americana and Blues feel that distinguishes it from the song that precedes it, though. ‘You’ is another one that I definitely feel is heavily inspired by a song that came out in the early 2010s by another massive Pop artist. The tone and style of this song make me think of the song ‘You and I’ by Lady Gaga. This track is a lot softer than that one, but it is still easy to hear the similarities. The mix does give the song a more modern sound than the Lady Gaga song, though. Various weird sound effects help the song fit more into the landscape of Pop music in 2023. Vocally, Miley Cyrus excels on this track. On this ballad, Miley belts her heart out. The gruff tone and huge range she sings with give so much life to ‘You.’ On ‘You,’ Miley is singing about a tumultuous relationship full of lust, partying, fighting, and love. The second half of this album, aka the PM section, is described as “a great time for rest, recover, go out to experience the wild side.” Considering the drastic switch in sound and style that this next song has from the songs that precede it, I would assume that ‘Handstand’ is where the PM section of the album starts(Even though Miley has not explicitly said this, the album drastically changes from this point on so I think it is safe to assume this is the case). ‘Handstand’ is an experimental Art-Pop track that is unlike anything I have heard in a while. The song is driven by sweet yet anxious-sounding synths that sound like they are from a dystopian future, and the song has a beat that goes back and forth from being upbeat and intricate to slow and groovy. There are sections of the song that sound like Neo-Electropop and there are sections that sound inspired by Caribbean Riddim/Dubstep music. The vocal performance on ‘Handstand’ is just as strange as the instrumental is. At the beginning of the track, Miley does this weird talking delivery which is not exactly rapping, and throughout the rest of the track, Miley sings in a light and subdued way that matches the strange nature of the instrumental. To be honest, I do not know how I feel about ‘Handstand.’ I appreciate how Miley came out of left field with it, but the structure of the song is odd. On ‘Handstand,’ is singing about a one-night stand with someone she just met.
‘River’ is a song that fits very well in the Pop landscape of 2023. It follows the recently very popular trend of modern New Wave music. The song is driven by a groovy bassline, and it is complemented by colorful and vibrant synths that give the song a Euphoric feeling. I do love the way this song is mixed, though, as it makes ‘River’ stand out. There are portions of the song where the synths are distorted in a way that reminds me of early 2010s Electro-House and Tech-House music. The elements of distortion in this instrumental give the song so much texture. Miley’s vocal performance on this song does not stand out, but it does match its energy and make the song flow well. The most memorable part of the vocal performance is in the second verse where Miley talks the lyrics instead of singing. On ‘River,’ Miley is singing about going out on the town with a new lover she is infatuated with. ‘Violet Chemistry’ keeps the Funky Synth-Pop sound that the last song had going. Similar to the song that precedes it, this one groovy bassline that makes you want to dance. Unlike the song before it, though, there is not much about the instrumental(or song in general) that makes it stand out. Apart from a brief breakdown after the second chorus where the beat slows down and has a Pop-Trap sound, ‘Violet Chemistry’ has a cookie-cutter and sort of boring mix. Miley’s vocals do not stand out on this track as well. They sound nice, do not get me wrong, but they do not add much to the song that makes up for the instrumental. As you can probably tell, this one does not do anything for me. This is interesting considering the discourse online about this song by other music critics is that it is highly regarded. On ‘Violet Chemistry,’ Miley is singing about wanting her partner to stay on the dance floor with her for one more song as the night starts to wind down. ‘Muddy Feet,’ which features Sia, is a song that is drastically different than anything before it. This song has a Pop-Trap sound that is driven by a piano riff which has a Bluesy feeling to it. I am not a huge fan of the melody, as it is off-kilter and off-putting, but I can see how one would like it if they are into that kind of Blues or Country music. One thing I do like about the instrumental is the way the beat is mixed. The beat comes in and out at various points, with more drums and sound effects added as the song progresses, making it sound grand and large at the end of the song. The vocal performances of ‘Muddy Water’ are excellent. Both Miley Cyrus and Sia flex their vocal ranges on the track, and their performances add so much to it. On ‘Muddy Water,’ Miley and Sia are singing about kicking someone toxic out of their life.
After the brief detour ‘Muddy Water’ gave us, Miley Cyrus is back with some futuristic-sounding Synth-Pop on the song ‘Wildcard.’ This song has an interesting and intricate instrumental that makes it distinctive, though. The synths that drive this melody have a foreboding sound; this melody is very gloomy and full of doom. I love how the beat fades and the distorted synths start blaring during the chorus, as it gives add so much emotion to the sound of ‘Wildcard.’ Speaking of the beat, it has a twitchy and uneasy feeling that goes so well with the sound of the synths. Miley’s vocal performance on ‘Wildcard’ is excellent as well. I love the power she sings with on ‘Wildcard,’ as it adds to the song’s intensity. On ‘Wildcard,’ Miley is singing about wanting more out of her relationship because she is tough to satisfy and always flies off the cusp. ‘Island’ is another song that has a completely different sound than the rest of the album. Based on its sound, this song is aptly named. ‘Island’ is a Reggae-tinted R&B track that is very calm and relaxing. The melody has a Calypso feeling that immediately transports my mind to a beach somewhere south of the border when it comes on. The beat has a tempo and style that reminds me a bit of 90s R&B music. Miley does not do anything super special on this track as far as her vocals go, but her tone and intensity do go well with the energy of the song. This track does not stand out much, but it is nice and soothing to listen to when it plays. On ‘Island,’ Miley is singing about being lonely while vacationing on an island. Miley closes out Endless Summer Vacation with the song ‘Wonder Woman.’ This track definitely has a climax feeling to it. It is a grandiose acoustic piano ballad with a warm yet somehow dark and haunting melody. There is not much else to say about the instrumental because that is pretty much all it is, The low-key and subdued instrumental makes the listener focus on Miley’s vocals, which are incredible in this song. Miley Cyrus shows off her range and the power she can sing with in such a massive manner. In ‘Wonder Woman,’ Miley is singing about how she has gone through a lot in her life and how she needs to fight to be resilient. It is a touching and motivating way to end the record, as the level of vulnerability Miley portrays in this song makes her relatable to the listener.
Throughout the years, I have always appreciated Miley Cyrus’ ability to constantly adapt and reinvent herself. As I stated before, she is an artist who can not be put in a box. Miley Cyrus is an artist who seems to be able to do anything she wants to when it comes to her music, and it seems like there are no limits on her range. I have always felt like she goes against the grain and does what she wants to do instead of what is popular at that moment. For the first time, however, I feel like Miley sort of gave into mainstream tendencies with Endless Summer Vacation. On this record, Miley takes a crack at various types of music that are popular today, like Shoegaze, Synth-Pop, and Pop-Trap, while sprinkling some Country in as well. Her attempts at making these kinds of music are not bad, but they do not stand out to me. The best thing by far about this album is Miley’s vocals, but because of a lot of the instrumental choices, I feel like her vocal performances are not always super easy to fully appreciate. Endless Summer Vacation is not the most exciting or engaging album Miley has ever made, but it does have a lot of fun tracks I know I will be coming back to in the future.