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‘Endless Summer Vacation’ is Miley Cyrus’ most versatile album

Graphic by Sarah Irwin

Miley Cyrus has come a long way from her days as “Hannah Montana.” Over the course of her sixteen-year career, Cyrus has effortlessly delivered hits like “The Climb” and “Wrecking Ball.” She experimented with a raunchy and wild period that produced the 2013 album “Bangerz” – not to mention that unforgettable VMAs performance with Robin Thicke – as well as a rock-star chapter that culminated in 2020’s “Plastic Hearts.”

The Tennessee native released her eighth studio album, “Endless Summer Vacation,” on March 10 and it’s potentially her best work so far.

This new project opens with the lead single “Flowers,” which came out ahead of the album on Jan. 13. The song, which spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Global 200 charts, is a feel-good track with a catchy post-chorus that preaches self-love. Cyrus has realized that she can give herself the love she sought from a romantic partner.

Maturity and self-reflection are prevalent themes throughout the album, especially on “Jaded.” Cyrus laments a former partner’s disillusionment during their relationship, describing how their unwillingness to consider their faults led to missed opportunities and regret.

The undeniable soul, emotion and passion on “Jaded” is equally present in the second to last song on the album, “Wonder Woman.” The piano ballad tells the story of a driven woman who hides her despair so she can put on a brave face for her loved ones.

“Rose Colored Lenses” is mellow with slow, smooth vocals. Cyrus embodies the voice of a partner desperate to make the good times of a relationship last for as long as possible.

“Handstand,” “River” and “Violet Chemistry” have electronic dance beats that I didn’t expect. The composition of these middle songs seemed a bit out of place at first, but they do bring interesting and fun energy to the pop sounds of the album.

On the flip side, “Thousand Miles” and “You” have obvious country influences that reminded me of “Malibu” and “Rainbowland” from her “Younger Now” album. I love that Cyrus can weave between different genres and display her country roots.

One of the standouts is “Muddy Feet” which teeters between pop and pop-rock. There’s a rocking, steady beat behind fierce lyrics that describe being fed up with a cheating lover and demanding they leave the house. It oozes confidence, fearlessness and self-assurance. It’s worth noting that the track, featuring Australian singer-songwriter Sia, samples Christina Aguilera’s 1999 hit “Genie in a Bottle.”

“Endless Summer Vacation,” may be full of summer vibes, but it’s also mature, vulnerable, self-aware and versatile. Cyrus pulls from different influences to craft heartfelt songs that fans can connect to, proving that she can provide incredible albums throughout any musical era that she finds herself in.

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