More “Flowers” have been added to Miley Cyrus’ bouquet.
As the versatile singer’s “who needs you, anyway, buddy?” hymn returned to the top of the charts in a big manner (six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 – her first No. 1 since “Wrecking Ball” a decade ago), Cyrus, 30, has released a full slate of emotionally tumultuous songs.
Her eighth studio album, “Endless Summer Vacation,” her first since the terribly underappreciated “Plastic Hearts” from 2020, veers between resignedness (“we went to hell but we never came back,” she laments in “Jaded”), sweet dreaminess (“Rose Colored Lenses,” the album’s standout track), and sleazy fun (“River”).
Other songs, like Sia’s “Muddy Feet” and “Wildcard,” have the makings of a wonderful song (a rat-a-tat snare and an off-kilter bluesy chorus, respectively), but they taper off into generic pop that is ultimately forgettable.
But the newly released CD features a number of standouts. These are a few examples.
The loping tune, which depicts Cyrus in a state of dizzy euphoria, is anchored by a methodical thud and a powerful bass line. She is aware that whatever is going on definitely won’t last (let’s keep pretending), but her desire is genuine. She mutters, sleepy-eyed, “We might stay like this forever, lost in Wonderland. Although the catchy chorus is infectious, the screeching guitar solo that brings the mid-tempo chugger to a close serves as a constant reminder of how much Cyrus adores rock ‘n’ roll.
Million Miles (featuring Brandi Carlile)
Heartfelt decisions aren’t always the best ones to make. As Cyrus sings, “I told myself to close that door, but I’m right back here again,” her knowledge is evident. She is aware that her objective is pointless, yet she is unable to overcome this. On the second verse, Carlile’s sweet voice blends with Cyrus’ as the song flutters to the sound of country guitar mingled with a clear drum track. The synthetic vocal sounds on the fadeout, which detract more from court intrigue than anything else, are the only criticism.
The best Cyrus has to offer is this enticing swayer. As she sings about wanting to go to Texas to slam her ex-boyfriends, she conjures the whiskey-slicked, gravelly tone in her voice. Nevertheless, only with the precise “you.” While she spins numerous situations (crash a wedding, start a quarrel to make up “on the floor of your room”), Cyrus is unmistakably enamoured and unrepentant. She was adamant: “I don’t need Jesus because you saved me, sweetheart.”
According to Cyrus, who separated the album into A.M. and P.M. vibes, it was created as a love letter to Los Angeles. The album’s seventh song, “River,” feels like the transition between the album’s 13 other songs. It’s a steamy dance floor anthem with glossy synths that would have made Madonna proud during the “Ray of Light” era. As a skittering high hat enters the chorus, a steady pulse serves as the song’s foundation. It is better to back off since Cyrus is ready to party wildly.
The song with the most distinctive sound on the album has a hazy Caribbean vibe and an opulent chorus (“Am I stranded on an island, or have I landed in paradise?”). When the melody and Cyrus’ voice move together as one, the two elements work well. The magnificent overlapping of the “Am I stranded…” chorus and the line “I hear your voice like a tune on the radio” repeated in tandem in gorgeous harmony is the highlight of the song.
In “Wonder Woman,”
The final song on the record (excluding the “Flowers” demo track), a sympathetic piano ballad about women who put on the brave front but ultimately crumble in the silence, is where Cyrus saves her mightiest punch. It would be easy for lyrics like “When a favourite record is playing and she’s dancing in the dark/she can’t stop her eyes from welling up/she makes sure that no one’s “’round to see her fall apart” to become cliched. Yet, Cyrus’ vocal, which begins softly, rises to a painful peak, then falls to a delicate hoarseness, deftly expressing the strength and the melancholy.