A nice thing about holidays, I think, is that they end. You can have the time of your life but then you return full of ideas about how you’ll adjust your life to be more like a holiday – you plan to rearrange the furniture, to refresh absolutely everything in your life.
On Endless Summer Vacation, Miley Cyrus is determined not to engage with that side of things. Over the course of 12 songs (and a demo version of her smash hit “Flowers”), she sighs her way through the aftermath of a break-up with mid-tempo beats and Radio 2 tunes tailor made for playing in the background as you while away time in not-real-life.
She sounds a little tired of it all, the rock’n’roll petulance and tongue-out provocation of her last albums firmly behind her and no mention of her dead pets anywhere to be found. It’s a slightly disappointing comedown – the woman who gave us “Wrecking Ball” doesn’t seem to have much wrecking left in her.
“Flowers”, which is currently number one in the UK and has been for weeks, sums up the mood – self-righteous self-love and an inexplicably low tempo that works better on the demo version bonus track – and a lot of the songs are simply unremarkable. One of the more vibrant tracks, “River”, is a spiffy disco-ish number that sounds like a love song but is in fact about an overpowering partner who drowns you in a deluge of their own sense of self. It feels like what Miley was aiming for with the whole album, but taken as a whole, the record falls short.
Miley Cyrus has never been an album artist and the singles are head and shoulders above the rest of the record. Listening to “Thousand Miles”, which features Brandi Carlile, feels like actually slogging your way through a thousand-mile trek, and there are some instantly forgettable middle tracks that leave as much impression as a feather on sand. “You” is one of these – a heartache ballad that serves us this great line but not much else: “I’m kinda crazy cos that’s how you made me”.
The thing is, if your holiday is quite dull then it being endless becomes a bad thing. Day after day of doing the same things, you may find yourself craving home. The point of the bridge on “Rose Coloured Lenses” is to emulate the feeling of wanting to stay in the suspended animation of the good times forever, but its repetition of “Let’s stay like this forever” does feel like it goes on forever.
Endless Summer Vacation isn’t a bad album, but it’s important to know when to call it a day on a holiday just as in everything else in life. There’s a reason why vacations end.