Endless Summer Vacation
Not her best album nor her boldest, Miley Cyrus’ Endless Summer Vacation, with its surprisingly poignant, thumpy, yet lazy lead single “Flowers,” is her most consistent, evenly handed full-length—one dedicated to her gauzy Los Angeles’s sunny days and noir-ish nights without a hint of cock-rock posturing. That last sentiment is a big deal, and probably one that makes the Miley of Endless Summer Vacation so winning—her new tracks don’t come across as schtick-y or lip-curlingly kitsch. Despite having a killer growl-purr and a soaring voice with a snarl attached to every chord, that attitude often let her music down. I can’t think of one song from 2017’s Younger Now that sticks to my ribs.
What emboldens Vacation is that Miley is mostly playing it straight with righteous, well-rounded ballads sung with effortless elan and taste, subtly buggy synth-pop cuts, and less-is-more dance tracks. Even though it usually sounds like a lot of other music currently charting, Vacation has just enough quirk to make it Miley’s. Rather than growl loudly, she’s finally figured out a way to roll her anger, her sexuality, and her balled-up, ballsy energy into something more nuanced and dynamic.
While pretty daytime tracks such as “Jaded” and “Rose Colored Lenses” toy with the SoCal soft-rock branding that made Fleetwood Mac a household name, and “Wonder Woman” lolls jovially in the acoustic and piano folk-country vein of her bloodline (Billy Ray and Dolly Parton, come on down), Endless Summer Vacation’s nervous nighttime affairs are gently strung-out and grooving. The vintage synths and modulated syncopation of “River,” the haunted freeform “Handstand,” and the moodily gut-hurt “Muddy Feet” (co-written with vocal guest star Sia) lift the record from its sunshiny haze, even though that daylight dreamscape isn’t anything to run from.
As with everything Miley Cyrus, you may want—even expect—the usual nail-biting drama, but you’ll be glad that such messy madness comes in short supply with Endless Summer Vacation.