Sunday Sundries: Miley's Back!
And she brought it!
Hi folks! Welcome back to Sunday Sundries on Inklings.
I was planning a less heavy post for this week, after the last one. I think I settled somewhere towards that.
One of the (many) triggers and issues I’ve allowed people to create in me over the years Is, simply, an aversion to sharing my music.
It was already there from growing up, when much of me got squashed. But my first girlfriend was a pretentious music snob. I mean, she did introduce me to some great artists, but that meant my choices—especially as I was branching out to find more of my own off the beaten path—were scrutinised. And rejected. Often with teasing.
Yeah that wasn't great. And still, even with Cuddles, I have to climb over a big wall of fear, self-consciousness, and expectation of rejection just to put music on without earbuds of some form.
But, you know, I'm 40 in a couple of months, and it's almost 20 years since that relationship ended. Time to stop hiding. I like my music. It's a collection of eclectic and ever-growing tunes, and a lot of it is just amazing. There's also a fair amount of it that's impossible to find now. I love finding and sharing new media, and I've missed sharing and receiving new music finds.
It's not even a dance anymore it's an explosion of joy and I defy anyone not to feel it!
So, that said: I want to talk about Endless Summer Vacation.
I'll start by saying that I missed the whole Miley thing. I was long past the age for Hannah Montana (until I did a google recently I didn't even know what it was about), so all I really got was the occasional drama in the news, and the odd bit of music that crept far enough into the cultural hivemind.
First, credit to(who has her own really good newsletter on here that you should check out) for bringing Flowers to my attention, because that's what got me listening. Thanks for that!
So here I am, pretty new to Miley's back catalogue, and I confess I am mildly annoyed that I didn't connect with it earlier.
On the other hand, I got to listen, for the first time, to 16 years of music, from See You Again up to Flowers, and it was pretty fun actually to get all that in an ongoing fashion.
Because she's never the same. You can hear each new album starting without really needing to check, because it's different—often dramatically so. She's been so many different versions of herself, and the music is the narration of her growth and development, both as a person and as an artist.
It's a bit like watching a timelapse film of a flower (heh) growing.
And then came Endless Summer Vacation. I saved it for a few days so I could listen to it as a treat, because if Flowers was anything to go by I suspected it would be excellent. And it is.
I'm gonna insert here that I have a thing for breakup albums. Also other stuff, but that's not today's topic!
I want to start with Flowers, because the video that goes with it is so wonderfully put together to tell us the story of the song.
OK, maybe watch it again?
We start with Miley walking outside. Perfectly and glamorously put together. Note especially the hood and sunglasses. This is Miley in her full outside-and-under-scrutiny mask.
As the first chorus hits, the hood comes down, the hair is pulled up into a messy topknot, and in a moment I love, she straight-up struts into the second half of the chorus, and breaks into a little dance up the road.
Then, the song goes through the first break as Miley strips to her bikini and dances through the garden sprinklers, starting to wash away the outside world.
Then as verse 2 begins, she dives into a pool, washing off the rest of the mask and the grime. And, as the verse continues, first we flip between shots of her swimming, and lying peacefully by the pool, smiling as she sings.
Then, the pool swum, the second chorus arrives, and those second shots are replaced by her doing a furious, and damned impressive, workout.
This is one single, clear message: she is strong as fuck, and she is happy with herself.
Make me happy and subscribe?
Then the shower, and the choosing of whatever clothes feel good to her with no thought of what anyone else might want/expect.
And then the wonderful, incredible moment when the final chorus bursts out, of Miley just letting everything loose. It's not even a dance anymore it's an explosion of joy and I defy anyone not to feel it!
And that takes her to the end of the video, by which time she's dancing on the roof with spotlights on her. Another clear message: look at her if you want. She is all of these things that you just saw and more, and she’s doing great. She is, literally, above your nonsense.
Flowers is gonna be a classic. Tell me I'm wrong (so I can explain why I'm not, heh)
Anyway, my amateur video analysis out of the way, what about the album?
First of all, referring back to each previous album being a different Miley, this one is where all of those come together. Every song is different parts, no two the same, and every song has a message.
I am a sucker for a good breakup album, and I am in no way disappointed here.
I'm not gonna dissect everything down to its atoms because I just did that with the Flowers video and that was plenty of my amateurishness (though I am absolutely resisting the urge to do a full spectrum analysis on everything). But here's a few high points.
To start with—how about that track order? Listening to it the first time, it can almost feel like you've got it on shuffle, getting the story this album is clearly telling in some sort of random order. But it’s all about the on/off/on/off/on/off/on/off-again relationship she's had with this person for years. When you look at it like that, what you're actually seeing is Miley taking you through the winding path of that journey.
It also initially feels like Flowers is in the wrong place. But when you get a feel for the rest, it’s actually more of a prologue: “I made it here. Wanna see how the journey went?”
Anyways, into a few of my favourite tracks.
Jaded. Oh dear.
Oh, isn’t it a shame that it ended like that?
Said goodbye forever, but you never unpacked
We went to Hell, but we never came back
This song tries to unpack the juxtaposition between knowing it needs to end, but being drawn back in again. The ongoing problems cycling over and over. Until, finally, it just has to end.
The track Thousand Miles has a similar theme of that need to go but desire to return.
A new fave burn track though is Muddy Feet, because…damn.
You smell like perfume that I didn't purchase.
I mean. Ouch! Ice needed for that burn. But this one is about claiming back her space from a person who has treated her badly. Get the fuck out, basically.
Now then, how about Wonder Woman? Miley pins to the wall exactly what it's like to be her. She's been in the public eye so long she probably doesn't remember a time when she wasn't. And like so many women, she suffers from the enforced need to always be fine. To never need anything. To make yourself small. To know the pain and humiliation that will be heaped on you if you’re found wanting. It’s about how the need to be yourself has to have an outlet. Something you can put your pain into until it hurts less, so you can find the strength to put that perfect woman mask back on again and face the world.
It's an emotional song, and Miley's voice captures it so well it's heartbreaking.
Last couple of comments. The Flowers demo at the end not only brings it full circle, but listening to this song without any frills added, you can hear Miley just singing her heart into it. And that final chorus, again it just gets an extra burst of joy from her, and I love it.
This whole album is excellent, and Miley's skills as a vocalist and songwriter are undeniable. I think she's one of the best out there right now.
So give it all a listen if you can!
And don’t forget to please share and subscribe for more Sundries!