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Miley Cyrus' Endless Summer Vacation is a perfectly fine weekend getaway

"Endless Summer Vacation"

Release date: 10 March 2023
Miley Cyrus Endless Summer Vacation Official Album Artwork
10 March 2023, 18:00 Written by David Cobbald

Six weeks at number 1 is no easy feat, and Miley Cyrus’ lead, and only, single from her eighth studio album Endless Summer Vacation achieved this with ease. It’s disappointing then, that the album itself doesn’t live up to the achievements of “Flowers,” and instead falls a little flat.

The first act of the album finds its feet in wholesome and hearty instrumentation, with “Jaded” and “Rose Colored Lenses” serving up similar vibes and sounds, each solidly in the inoffensive and easy-listening realm. Brandi Carlile’s appearance on “Thousand Miles” continues with more of the same, and “You” gives us a waltz ballad that hints at the electronic act to follow. You can’t help but notice the lack of inventiveness when it comes to melodies on these moments – all are perfectly fine, but they’re not exactly reinventing the wheel.

It’s after this section that things take a turn. “Handstand” feels like more of an interlude than a full track, with Cyrus’ vocals sitting way too far down in the mix to be sung along to, and “River” (the Justin Tranter penned track) is a confused mash of one too many ideas that leave it being more underwhelming than interesting. “Muddy,” with a feature from Sia, falls victim to a similar fate and doesn’t quite take off from where it started. You’d think with Sia’s unmatched writing skills on the track it would stand more of a chance, but with a grand total of eleven writers credited on it it seems there were too many cooks that spoilt the broth.

Two tracks are notably better than the bunch, those being “Violet Chemistry” (which, fun fact, has a James Blake writing credit on it), and “Island”. The former has a sense of grandeur that lifts it above the surface-level production found elsewhere across the album, and the latter has an entirely different feel to it, and actually lives up to the album’s title by taking you abroad with its tropical feel.

“Wildcard,” while a good song, is let down by its lacklustre production value. Cyrus’ vocal is sensational (as it is across the album) but it feels like the track is waiting to grow into something that just never comes. The track where Cyrus’ vocal truly shines is “Wonder Woman,” where she lives out her best Billy Joel tribute over a bare piano track. Miley has such a stunning voice when she pares things back, and this is great example of that.

Then there’s “Flowers,” the break-up anthem that tops and tails the album. This is the crowning jewel of Endless Summer Vacation, with the closing version showing how the original demo was taken from a sultry piano ballad into the opening feel-good fuck-you bop – and thank god for that, or else the record would’ve been even more middle of the road than it already is. Don’t get me wrong, Endless Summer Vacation is a good album with each track deserving of a listen, but in the same breath, the majority of them aren’t worthy of a replay either.

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