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How Miley Cyrus got her groove back


A decade and a half after she began making records, first as her Disney Channel alter ego Hannah Montana, then as herself (or maybe “herself”), Miley Cyrus sounds like a woman on her eighth studio album. Who looks back at all the places he’s been. , both musically and emotionally, and assessing where all of her journeys have taken her now, freshly divorced and in her early 30s.

The LP is called “Endless Summer Vacation,” which reflects the coolly euphoric country-disco vibe of a song like “Flowers,” the lead hit single that spent six weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart en route to racking up more. of a billion streams. But the real theme of these dozen tunes (plus a bonus demo of “Flowers”) is the hard work of introspection and the even harder work of self-reliance.

“I love when you hold me / But loving you is never enough,” she sings on “Wildcardthe sting of acceptance still fresh in her voice, “Don’t wait for me / Because it may never come forever.”

How to explain the enormous success of “Flowers”? Though she’s never lacked for showbiz visibility (check out her recent New Year’s Eve TV special where she sang with Dolly Parton and David Byrne), Cyrus was a far cry from her previous No. 1, 2013’s “Wrecking Ball,” when she recorded winning empowerment. she improvises with Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, the same duo that produced Harry Styles’ Grammy-winning “Harry’s House.” And maybe her golden touch had something to do with it; maybe it’s the lyrical and melodic DNA the song shares with the Bruno Mars hit.”When I was your Man”, a supposed favorite of Cyrus’s ex-husband, actor Liam Hemsworth.

But “Flowers,” which fans have heard as an explicit response to “When I Was Your Man,” also captures this veteran shapeshifter in the right place: annoying yet funny, grim yet heartfelt.

Thematically, “Endless Summer Vacation” revolves around Cyrus’ split from Hemsworth; she fondly recalls some of the good times of hers, identifies the red flags that eventually cropped up, reflects on the joys and complications of singleness, and finally rediscovers the longing for romance. (In addition to Johnson and Kid Harpoon and other established pop professionals like Greg Kurstin, Tobias Jesso Jr. and Mike Will Made It, the singer’s studio collaborators here include her current boyfriend, musician Maxx Morando.) .

Stylistically, the songs come from all over the place. Like the actress that is hers, Cyrus has in the past used each of her albums to explore a single genre: hip-hop on “Bangerz,” psychedelia on “Her Dead Petz,” country music on “Younger Now.” “. a Disney kid, she was the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, and rock hard on “Plastic Hearts.” Yet “Endless Summer Vacation” pieces together bits of all that material as you push through heartbreak to savor the clarity that follows.

What holds the music together is Cyrus’s singing, which easily stood out from Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers in the mid-2000s and still feels different now that she’s competing with SZA and Taylor Swift. In “Jaded” and “muddy feet,she emphasizes the grainy texture of her voice over stomping rock beats; “Pink Lenses” has her rounding the edges of each sentence with giddy sensuality. Brandi Carlile appears to sing alongside Cyrus on the blippy-folky “thousands of miles”, but lags behind in the mix, sticking to ghostly high harmonies against Cyrus’ low growl.

“River” and “violet chemistrythey’re the most rhythmic cuts on the album, with Cyrus dishing out fast, choppy lines amid ravey synths played in part by James Blake. AND “Youis the album’s vocal centerpiece: a lounge-ready retro-soul ballad in the vein of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” in which Cyrus channels the longing of someone cautiously entering a new relationship. and that same reluctance of someone to get hurt again.

In fact, her singing is vivid enough on “Endless Summer Vacation” to make up for a few bland songs here and there: “Fingers start to dance along the shapes and forms,” ​​runs a line on “Violet Chemistry,” “mixing all the colors as if we were doing a Monet.” (Ouch.)

But to get too hung up on an embarrassing lyric is to miss the point of Miley Cyrus in this strange, twisty, and unique phase of her career. As she says in “A Thousand Miles”: “I’m crazy / But I still hold on like a rolling stone.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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