Miley Cyrus condenses summer vibes into new album

After the smashing and, dare I say, surprising success of “Flowers,” Miley Cyrus has followed up with her equally as fun and vivacious album, “Endless Summer Vacation.” While all 13 songs securely fit within the pop genre, the album covers a wide range of sounds from high-energy dance songs to emotional ballads with rock, electronic and country influences interspersed.

Described as “her love letter to LA,” the album perfectly encapsulates the notorious city. “Endless Summer Vacation” takes the listener on a tour of Los Angeles, whether burning in the heat, swimming in crashing waves of the Pacific or racing around the fast-paced streets. The majority of the songs remain upbeat, despite the varying subject matter. While songs like “Flowers” and “Jaded” focus on heartbreak and regret, much of the album emanates the happiness and excitement of new love, such as in “Rose Colored Lenses” and “Violet Chemistry.”

There is a brash confidence that runs through “Endless Summer Vacation,” which perfectly encapsulates the LA vibe. That isn’t to say that there are no moments of vulnerability that peek out. In “Wildcard,” Cyrus exposes some of her insecurities and flaws as she sings about how she craves love but can ruin it with her unpredictability.

Along with the release of the album on March 10, an accompanying concert special, titled “Miley Cyrus: Endless Summer Vacation (Backyard Sessions),” was released on Disney+. The performances are classically California with the golden skies, blue pool and extravagant house acting as a backdrop. The interview portions of the film provided a glimpse into the thought process behind the album.

“When it comes to the sequencing of ‘Endless Summer Vacation,’ I divided it by two parts: a.m. and p.m. The a.m. to me is representing… a buzz and energy and there’s a potential of new possibilities,” Cyrus said in the film. “At nighttime, it feels like there’s a slinky seediness and kind of a grime but a glamour at the same time. In LA… you can feel trouble boil up to the surface and it’s very inspiring to me.”

There is a brash confidence that runs through “Endless Summer Vacation,” which perfectly encapsulates the LA vibe.

“Endless Summer Vacation” is almost a perfect album in my eyes. None of the songs sound the same, but they all fit together to create a cohesive album. The variety in sound makes the album dynamic and fun to listen to. There’s never a dull moment — from the more relaxed first half of the album that transitions into the jolting second half.

That is until we hit “Island.” Because Cyrus ponders whether being alone is more positive or negative, it fits thematically within this final section where she opens up more deeply. However, the tropical-sounding production and slower tempo don’t quite belong and caused the ending to fall off for me.

Moving into the lone ballad “Wonder Woman,” I felt a little let down by the album’s ending as I’m personally not the biggest fan of ballads. However, I think this was a good choice on Cyrus’ part. The album pulls the listener all over the place without many pauses to rest, so ending with a more subdued song pairs nicely with the scaled-back “Flowers (Demo)” that closes out the album.

The successful execution of the rest of the album negates any of its flaws in my book. I genuinely enjoyed so many of the songs, from the bright synths and prominent percussion in “River” to the flowy instrumentation of “Jaded.” Of course, Cyrus’ strong, raspy vocals take the true spotlight, though.

Cyrus’ discography is a bit of a musical rollercoaster with the bubblegum pop of her Disney days, the country twang from the “Younger Now” era and the darker pop-punk of “Plastic Hearts.” “Endless Summer Vacation” bridges the gap between Cyrus’ versatility, landing her in her sweet spot. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the best albums of 2023.


5/5 Stars

Featured photo by Ralph_PH, Flickr