Miley Cyrus’ “Endless Summer Vacation” reflects on heartbreak, self-love, and the singer’s controversial career

By Faith Molitor

Elm Staff Writer

Miley Cyrus released her eighth studio album, “Endless Summer Vacation,” on March 10. The drop came on the heels of the virality of “Flowers,” the only single to come off of the album.

According to Elle, the song is allegedly about her divorce from her ex-husband, Liam Hemsworth. Following its popularity, one could assume that the album would be a reflection on the growth in her life after her on-and-off relationship. Similar to the rest of her post-Disney albums, it was also expected to be typically “Miley” — unapologetically bold and honest.

According to Rolling Stone, Cyrus’ career has been “building to this moment.” The singer’s transition from childhood stardom to her adult career has been notoriously rocky; according to Complex, her literal swing into adulthood with songs like “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop” was criticized by parents for its perceived inappropriateness after her child stardom, as well as Black artists, who raised concerns about Cyrus’ appropriation of Black culture with her visuals and dancing.

Since the release of “Bangerz” in 2013, Cyrus’ music career has spanned from psychedelic to classic rock. In ten years, Cyrus has traveled across the musical circuit and back again and is ready to emerge as a bonafide pop star.

While “Endless Summer Vacation” might not be the perfect fairytale, it has the soul to resonate with anyone who ever experienced heartbreak and loss.

The album is arranged into two different sequences that represent different points in the day. Miley said that the A.M. half is, “a buzz and an energy, and there’s a potential of new possibilities,” where the P.M. section is, “a grime and a glamor at the same time..that you kind of feel trouble bubble up underneath the surface.”

Cyrus traverses every side of a relationship — the good, the bad, and the in-between. Throughout the album, she crafts a variety of different melodies that support the powerful lyricism, showing how love is complex, complicated, and beautiful even when it is painful.

In order to process every aspect of her self-growth, Cyrus breaks down the moments step-by-step in each of her songs.

The album opens with “Flowers,” the singer’s self-love anthem. She plays with the typical idea of love espoused in pop music, switching up the narrative by sampling the lyrics of Bruno Mars’ 2013 song “When I Was Your Man.” Electric and catchy, the song sets the tone for what is to come.

Towards the middle of the album, Cyrus shifts her perspective from self-love to reflect on her relationship. “Rose Colored Glasses,” “River,” and “Violet Chemistry” are about the passion that comes with turbulent love.

Some of the most heartfelt moments of the album come on the tracks that feature guest artists. “Thousand Miles,” which features Brandi Carlile, and “Muddy Feet,” which features Sia, are all about processing trauma and setting up boundaries. Listening to Cyrus’ journey is inspiring, encouraging anyone who is in a rough relationship to stand up for themself.

The showstoppers of “Endless Summer Vacation” come toward the end of the album.

“Island” is a culmination of the doubts Cyrus feels about her relationship. She explores how the distance between who you want to be and who you are in a relationship comes to a crossroads.

“Wonder Woman” follows “Island,” acting as a testament to the strength it takes to leave a relationship. The song is Cyrus’ grown-up answer to her first power ballad, “The Climb,” which also touches on fortitude in the face of hardship.

 The emotional landscape that Cyrus explores throughout “Endless Summer Vacation” twists and turns, reflecting the musician’s often fraught career. Cyrus closes the album with an acoustic demo of “Flowers.” This placement makes the album cyclical; in the demo, it seems as if she is singing only for herself, crafting a plan for her to pick herself up out of the past and into the future.

“Endless Summer Vacation” can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. Additionally, Cyrus released “Backyard Sessions: Endless Summer Vacation,” a filmed concert of the album, on Disney+.

For those who need a new break up album, or just want an album that helps them to process what is going on in their life, this one is for you.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo caption: Miley Cyrus’ newest album, “Endless Summer Vacation,” is a departure from her previous album, “Plastic Hearts,” which was released in 2020 and featured rock music.

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