Endless? If only. Just months of the stuff. Lounging around some pool in a country where the food is great and the heat is better. Living the dream. Miley Cyrus hopes to encapsulate that and a collection of poignant telling of her own self in recent years throughout Endless Summer Vacation. She does not strike through like the wrecking ball she was but has found new scope for the electric pop feel present on this latest album. In an era where pop artists are reinventing themselves with great success (see Rebecca Black and Lady Gaga’s recent monumental works), it feels as though Cyrus hopes to do the same. Finding a new image that slots into the popular culture of the time. Endless Summer Vacation certainly tries.
String melodies and a steady pop throttle on opener Flowers steadies Cyrus for a Future Nostalgia-like offering. Punchy, stadium-ready flickers with a handful of collaborations. Nice flows are the most important thing to a relevant alt-pop album, and while Endless Summer Vacation has that in the likes of Jaded into Rose Colored Lenses, it does not have the gift of variety. Breakup tracks are an immediate and constant draw for Cyrus, who certainly improves on the earlier imagery her presence on pop has experienced. Endless Summer Vacation feels as empty as the meaning of its title, the desire to stay in a constant place for as long as possible, despite the obvious change of pace from the artist behind it. Cyrus successfully navigates that change in pace with decent quality pop tracks.
Collaborations with Brandi Carlile on Thousand Miles and Sia on Muddy Feet do little for anyone involved. They are fine pop numbers neither elevated or reduced by the appearance of a featured artist shouldering up to pop mainstay and songwriter Michael Pollack. You certainly stands out, more for its slower movements, its contemplative backing vocals and the simpler expression from lyrics that know what their focus is, how to achieve the desired effect and note the need for slick production. Handstand does that as it opens with a spoken word switch that sees Endless Summer Vacation switch from bubbly excitement to post-summer fallout contemplation. Grime and glamour all in one, its spotty selection is just enough to keep the album punching through.
Violet Chemistry makes that charged change from day to night a little too obvious and does even less to innovate with its production. Cyrus plants herself firmly with a solid offering though. Endless Summer Vacation is thankfully not as endless as first promised but is instead a short and sweet pop album that has its moments. Moments make good pop records, though. Dua Lipa thrives on Good in Bed and Physical, the likes of Ava Max are finding their footing and on the other side of that is Shaun Farrugia’s debut EP stoking an exciting bonfire of quality. Cyrus collects a couple tracks of sincere quality here and presents them alongside some dips and flows that work well as a collective but may wane in isolation.