Miley Cyrus’ “Endless Summer Vacation” is underwhelming after hit single “Flowers”

Photo credit: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

When Miley Cyrus released her single “Flowers” on Jan. 13, the lyrics instantly garnered attention from drama-fiends like me. However, her new, highly-anticipated album “Endless Summer Vacation” isn’t as juicy as you might expect.

The “Plastic Hearts” singer released her eighth studio album “Endless Summer Vacation” on March 10. The album spans a range of musical genres and lyrical themes, with songs hinting at her split from ex-husband Liam Hemsworth.

“Flowers” broke Spotify’s record for most streams in one week at over 100 million, and rightfully so. It takes the 2013 Bruno Mars hit “When I Was Your Man” and flips it on its head, transforming it into the ultimate independent woman theme song.

Released on her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth’s birthday, “Flowers” seems to reference their relationship, which came to a bitter end in Aug. 2019. Social media users speculate that Hemsworth dedicated “When I Was Your Man” to Cyrus at their engagement.

Whether or not this is true, Cyrus deciding to sing the Bruno Mars hit track from the opposite perspective is a bold move.

None of the rumors surrounding the song have been confirmed, nor has any evidence been provided in their defense.

Although Cyrus vehemently denies that infidelity occurred during her marriage to Hemsworth, “Muddy Feet” clearly describes a cheating situation. Regardless of who the song is about, it perfectly encapsulates the rage that accompanies experiencing disloyalty.

The feature by Sia near the end is uplifting, empowering listeners not to wallow in pity, but rather to do something about their anger. Despite coming later in the album, “Muddy Feet” feels like a prelude to “Flowers,” encapsulating the fury that precedes self-assurance and closure after a breakup.

“Wonder Woman,” one of the album’s best tracks, alludes to the process of dealing with a breakup in the spotlight. Cyrus has lived in the public eye since childhood, and like other celebrities, chooses to emote in private. A stripped-down instrumental accompaniment reflects the vulnerability in the lyrics. It’s just her and the piano, allowing her emotion to shine through.

Even though these three tracks describe a failed relationship, most of the album seems to be about a successful and passionate love. “You,” a bluesy track which references Cyrus’s country roots, exudes passion and devotion, a true proclamation of love.

On the opposite end of the genre spectrum, the heavily electronic “Handstand” likewise describes enamourment from the song’s muse, presumably her current rumored boyfriend and member of the rock band Liily, Maxx Morando. This track describes a whirlwind start to a relationship in which the subject is in complete awe of Cyrus — and she is likewise infatuated with him.

“Take me captive and then sail away,” she sings. In love or obsessed? I don’t know, but the song is good either way.

Similarly, in “Violet Chemistry,” Cyrus and her partner want nothing in the world but each other. Most of the song is catchy, its smooth rhythm complementing Cyrus’s signature vocal grit.

The bridge, however, does not suit the song. Its robotic rhythm conflicts with the syncopation of the chorus and the broken-down background just doesn’t work. It needed to take the chord progression from the chorus, maintain the flirty rhythm and build to a high note. Instead, it just falls flat.

The album lacks notable songs. “Island” features boring lyrics atop a boring melody, and “River” was similarly unimpressive.

“Endless Summer Vacation” is a mixed bag, with tracks like “Flowers,” “Muddy Feet,” “You” and “Handstand” set apart from the rest. The breakup tracks are extremely cathartic, and if nothing else, the album is worth listening to for the tea. Cyrus has an incredible voice, but this album does not even come close to reaching her potential.