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Miley Cyrus - Endless Summer Vacation (Album Review)

Monday, 20 March 2023 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Marcell Rév

In Ken Burns’ epic documentary series Country Music, he asks guitar godfather and key architect of the so-called Nashville Sound, Chet Atkins, exactly what that sound comprises. Atkins jingles some coins in his pocket. “That’s the Nashville Sound!” he says with an accompanying grin.

At 30 years old, Miley Cyrus has moved a long way beyond the country genre that introduced her to music audiences. And yet on ‘Endless Summer Vacation’, her eighth studio album, it is undoubtedly the country-infused tracks that stand out. 

Thousand Miles (feat. Brandi Carlile) is one such cut. A guitar-led ballad with ‘80s synth inflections, it’s a stretch to see this track as pure Americana, but it gives a platform to Cyrus’s unique selling point: her voice.

Here the storytelling is front and centre, serving as a magnificent cypher for her intoxicating mix of tone, timbre and Tennessee accent.

If only the whole album were this good. Some tracks run it close, but not regularly enough. Jaded is an excellent heartbreak pop song—“I’m sorry that you’re jaded / I could have taken you places!”—and Wonder Woman works as an impressive finale, but it is noteworthy mostly for the quality and uniqueness of the vocal performance.

Ultimately, a lot of ‘Endless Summer Vacation” is pretty bland. Tracks such as River are Flowers are hackneyed stabs at disco while Wildcard and Handstand basically drift into the abyss the second you stop listening to them. 

Cyrus has the world at her feet—she’s got a giant platform, adoring fans and is likely only just beginning to enter mid-career. It’s probably time to kick on a bit more. ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ sounds too much like the jangle of coins in Chet Atkins’ pocket.


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