Miley Cyrus is a role model. Her eighth studio album Endless Summer Vacation was released Friday and as always, impresses me with how she could possibly make an album better than the last.

The album starts off with the only single released prior to the album, “Flowers,” the kind of song that makes you want to dance your heart out. This empowering track had many curious as to how much Cyrus would address her divorce from Liam Hemsworth in 2019 in the album. Watching the music video for the first time made me realize how I’ve been able to watch Cyrus grow and get older.

Next up is “Jaded,” where Cyrus’ grit and anger shines through. Cyrus reflects on a past relationship and feels sorry she couldn’t help the other person who was hurting, and is now “jaded” and lonely.

[Sam Levinson shouldn’t punish actors for providing input]

Cyrus has had a long career as a musician since becoming a Disney star in the early 2000s. She wrote away her squeaky clean image in an attempt to separate herself from Disney with the Bangerz album in 2013. This was followed by a mellowed out sound with Younger Now in 2017 and a new rock feel that excelled with Plastic Hearts in 2020. Endless Summer Vacation is the perfect mix of all these sounds combined with years of crafting the skill.

My favorite track on the album, “Rose Colored Lenses,” starts with a percussion that immediately gets your foot tapping. The difference between this track and the last really showcases Cyrus’ ability to incorporate grit in her voice, and then remove it for more romantic, smoother songs. This is the song I will have on repeat when I take walks and romanticize my life.

Toward the middle of the album are a couple of very sexy, empowering songs. In “Handstand,” Cyrus flexes how she can do some very intimate things while in a handstand. This track is followed by “River,” a funk synth heavy track with very sexy lyricism. 

[I lost my freshman friend group, but it led to the mature friendships I have now]

The 13-track album was thoughtfully divided into an “AM” and “PM” side, representing two acts with the energetic feelings of morning and the slinky, glamor of the evening.

And the PM side really shows that glamor. “Violent Chemistry” is all glamor and is another one of my favorite songs on the album. Cyrus sings about wanting someone to stay because of the chemistry they have, and belts without the grit many of the previous, angrier songs had. 

This song is followed by the trap-feel, badass sound of “Muddy Feet” featuring Sia, where the Cyrus grit is back in full force. The song ends with Sia humming the outro, where she harmonizes a back track that is impossible to not recognize as Sia.

As an entire piece, Endless Summer Vacation solidifies Cyrus as one of the greats. Each album she’s released has explored a new sound and feel while maintaining that “Miley” feel. From diva-pop to down-to-earth to new rock, Cyrus skillfully tried out new sounds over the years while finding her own, and this album is the core of it.