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Sunday, March 3
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COLUMN: Miley Cyrus’s ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ is a mixed bag


Miley Cyrus’s eighth studio album “Endless Summer Vacation” marks yet another genre transition for the iconic Disney actress turned pop legend. The dance-pop album was released on March 10 and is Cyrus’s first studio album with Columbia Records, following the end of her 8-year contract with RCA. 

The first and only single released before the full album’s release was the opening track “Flowers.” Released on Jan. 12, the disco-pop song was an immediate hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., Canada and dozens of other countries.  

Most notable, however, was the accompanying music video in which Cyrus practices self-care in what is rumored to be the mansion where her ex, Liam Hemsworth, took women when he was cheating on Cyrus. 

In its first full week, “Flowers” broke records on Spotify for the number of streams any song had ever received in a week — beating Adele’s “Easy On Me.” In its second week, it broke that record again by nearly 20 million streams.  

Though “Flowers” was a unanimous hit, the album in its entirety fell a bit short in comparison to Cyrus’s previous work. In particular, the pop flare of the album didn’t highlight her vocals in the way her previous album, “Plastic Hearts,” was able to. Where “Plastic Hearts” paid homage to Cyrus’s rock influences, “Endless Summer Vacation” paints a murkier picture in regard to influence and genre.  

Related: [COLUMN: Cécile McLorin Salvant’s ‘Mélusine’ is inspired take on folktale]

In interviews about the album, Cyrus explained that it’s divided into a.m. and p.m. In this viewing of the album, the track “You” is, perhaps, the moment where the sun starts to set. One of the finer points on the album, “You” is a tenderhearted ballad where Cyrus lists the things she wants to do “but only if it’s with you.” The slow, rhythmic drumming and accompanying piano are perfectly subtle and add to the classic tone of the song.  

“Violent Chemistry,” my favorite track, is an ode to the after-the-after-party and is stylistically similar to Tove Lo’s more recent work. It’s fast, synth-y, carefree and the perfect song to dance along to. 

The album’s second single, “River,” is another star and one of the more vocally complimentary songs on the album. At one point, Cyrus speaks instead of singing in a very ‘80s twist, reminiscent of Grace Jones and Lou Reed. The track’s fast-paced claps and disco instrumentation submerge listeners in a runway fantasy. This is reflected in the song’s music video, in which Cyrus stands on a stage in a short dress interspersed with clips of half-naked male models. 

Some of the less impressive tracks on the album include “Wonder Woman,” a slow-paced ballad commending a woman’s strength that, unfortunately, falls flat with its simplistic instrumentation, repetitive melody and basic lyricism. Similarly, “Thousand Miles” and “Muddy Feet,” the two tracks with features on the album— featuring Brandi Carlile and Sia, respectively— are both somewhat forgettable numbers that don’t make much use of their added star power.  

While disco and dance-pop are undeniably having a moment in the music landscape, there are better examples of both that one can find in recent history — be it Beyonce’s “Rennaissance,” Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” or Tove Lo’s “Dirt Femme.” Though the album has broken records and has some amazing moments, as one of Miley’s long-time fans and defenders (yes, I even loved “Dead Pets”), I deeply believe that she is artistically capable of more than what was delivered on “Endless Summer Vacation.” 

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