Miley Cyrus’ ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ promotes authenticity

David Matos, Arts & Life Editor

Miley Cyrus’ experimental music evolutions over the past decade in an attempt to distance herself from her Disney Channel image and her “Party in the U.S.A” wholesome persona are admirable.

Cyrus’ rebellious era is encompassed in her fourth studio album, “Bangerz” and her 2015 follow-up album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.” During this period, we saw an ungovernable side of the teen idol. She made twerking and whipping her tongue out for the camera something most people still associate with the artist, showing that her 2010 song “Can’t Be Tamed” only foreshadowed what would come.

Only two years later, Cyrus embarked on a different change of pace, harkening back to her Franklin, Tennessee, roots with her country pop album “Younger Now.” However, her most underrated album is “Plastic Hearts,” where Cyrus takes on a 1970s rock persona, complete with a blonde mullet, and collabs with 1970s rock industry legends like Joan Jett and Billy Idol.

Also, Cyrus’s cover of the 1994 anti-terrorism grunge classic “Zombie,” released in 1994 by the alternative rock band The Cranberries, is one of the best interpretations of any non-original work to date, almost beating out the original.

Though every Cyrus album differs from the last, one thing that remains consistent is that the woman can sing, and her eighth studio album, “Endless Summer Vacation,” released March 10, bares no exception. If anything, her latest album feels like the rawest and most honest we’ve ever seen of her.

“Endless Summer Vacation” is a series of pop ballads and follows Cyrus’ post-divorce from “The Hunger Games” actor Liam Hemsworth in 2020.

Her chart-leading single “Flowers,” released not so coincidentally on Hemsworth’s birthday on Jan. 13. The album is a brilliant introduction to Cyrus’ post-Hemsworth era as the song illuminates themes of self-worth and renewal after a messy breakup.

“Built a home and watched it burn/ I didn’t want to leave you/ I didn’t want to lie/ Started to cry/ but then remembered I can buy myself flowers,” Cyrus sings.

Although I haven’t personally experienced a breakup recently, “Flowers” still heavily resonated with me, and I can imagine thousands of other people. I often forget my self-worth and that I’m capable of loving myself better than anyone else can, and this track is a reminder of precisely that.

Aside from “Flowers,” two of the other standout tracks of the album for me are “Rose Colored Lenses” and “River.”

“River” is seemingly about being in love and overwhelmed by those emotions. Love is a feeling that can be immensely complex and powerful, so much so that it’s hard to comprehend at times. This song puts those emotions into a new perspective unique to other songs about love, and Cyrus’ vocals are impressively powerful on this track, which is the cherry on top.

“Rose Colored Lenses” speaks on escapism and wanting to live in a dream-like reality with your partner, ignoring all the flaws of your relationship and the world in an idealistic way. The song is something I can relate to as I’m guilty of ignoring red flags and will often take the “glass half full” approach to life, which admittedly isn’t always the most healthy of choices.

Similarly, “Island” is about escapism to a paradise-like place. The song is another pleasant standout because it’s a fun, harmonious song that metaphorically transports me to a sandy beach amid summer vacation, harkening back to the album’s title.

Another track I personally connect with lyrically is “Jaded,” which is a rock melody that references her experience with the rock genre but takes on a different approach that feels more authentically Cyrus. The lyrics tackle the feelings of remorse and regret post-breakup.

“We went to hell but never came back/ I’m sorry that we’re jaded/ I could’ve taken you places/ You’re lonely now/ and I hate it.”

Losing someone you shared your love with once upon a time is never easy, and this track beautifully puts those real feelings in the form of “Jaded.”

The uniquely melodic “Handstand” is arguably one of the most experimental tracks of the album. The song is somewhat euphoric and unlike any song I’ve heard up to this point due to the distorted vocals throughout the track.

Its inclusion stands out amongst the rest in a different way than “Island” does, and though I have yet to have processed whether I enjoy it or not, I still have yet to skip it because of its distinctive sound. It intrigues me.

Finally, “Thousand Miles” featuring alternative country singer Brandi Carlie had to grew on me, making it the underdog of the album. It’s the most country-sounding song of the album, bringing Cyrus back to her roots. But unfortunately, country music is far from my go-to genre. In fact, I avoid it when I can.

However, after listening to the sound a number of times I started to enjoy the track wholeheartedly, and it is reminiscent of “The Climb” from “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” which is a personal favorite of mine.

Overall, “Endless Summer Vacation” is Cyrus’ most authentic album yet. It recollects her career, divorce and grief in the present. It is encompassed uniquely into a 13-track album filled with empowering and relatable messages told through Cyrus’s point of view alongside her brilliant vocal talent in its most raw form yet. Though “Plastic Hearts” remains my No. 1, “Endless Summar Vacation” is one I’m sure many people can resonate with.