Grade: 4.5 / 5.0
Noah Cyrus has made a name for herself over the past few years with a series of singles and collaborations that have highlighted her beautiful vocal tones and unique take on pop. Her newest EP, The End of Everything, is a mature and vulnerable self-reflection that shows immense promise for the songwriter moving forward.
Released May 15, 2020, The End of Everything is a 24-minute collection of simple instrumentals, powerful vocals and deeply introspective lyrics that explore topics from loneliness and toxic relationships, to hope and faith.
The EP opens with the soft keys and haunting vocals of “Ghost,” as Cyrus’ soft but powerful voice follows a meandering melody. Electronic beats and ghostly sound effects are then introduced to amplify Cyrus’ vocals. The song’s most haunting aspect, however, is Cyrus’ lyrics. She softly sings, “When you’re looking in the mirror/ Demons may be closer than they may appear.” The lyrics imply Cyrus’ struggles with herself and how she is trying to escape her demons, as they have made her into something she doesn’t recognize.
Layered over crisp guitar strings, Cyrus’ voice is full and embodied in “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus,” as she sings about loss and hope using various religious analogies. Despite the sad tones to the song, it clings to faith in the face of fear. Her proclamation that “I got so high that I saw Jesus/ He said, ‘It’s all gonna be okay’ ” is simply delivered, but deeply felt. The concept that Cyrus needs to be reassured, yet she can only feel faith when she’s high, speaks volumes to the role of faith in modern society.
“Lonely” introduces a deep vulnerability to the EP, with Cyrus emotionally imploring, “Oh, please someone help me” and “ ‘Cause I’m so sick of being so lonely.” Supplemented by a choir of vocals, Cyrus is not in fact alone as she sings, complicating the concept of loneliness. While retaining control of her vocals, Cyrus embodies emotional fragility, infused with urgent vocal runs that demonstrate the artist’s range of abilities.
“July” combines crisp, twangy guitar strings with deeper bass notes to give the song expansive depth and bittersweet complexity. Cyrus’ vocals stand out on this track as particularly heavenly, filled with sadness, but full and sweet all at once. Her voice floats effortlessly between registers as she discusses a toxic relationship, singing, “ ‘Cause you remind me every day/ I’m not enough, but I still stay,” in sweet agony. Melodious whistles add an indie vibe to the track, carrying it to the end too soon, as the conflicting emotions of the song feel unresolved and still raw. But the lyrics themselves are unresolved and raw as well, and Cyrus expertly imbues her audience with those same feelings.
“Wonder Years (feat. Ant Clemons)” is clearly Cyrus’ attempt to include a more experimental sound in her EP, but unfortunately it falls flat in sound and substance. Composed of moody and electronic beats, sound effects and a multitude of layered vocals, the resulting sound is jarring and confusing, lacking the emotional depth of the previous songs.
Melancholy chords introduce the final track, “The End of Everything,” in which Cyrus floats effortlessly through a measured melody with controlled range and raw emotion in her voice. The lyrics take center stage in this song, describing the complexity of loss and death as both an end and a beginning. The song begins with the words, “Everyone you love is gonna die/ But, darlin’, so is everything, don’t cry.” Cyrus goes on to explain that just as all good things must end, so too will fear, hate and hurt — a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the possibilities of its ever-changing nature.
The End of Everything is a deeply introspective and vulnerable album for Cyrus, establishing her strength as both a singer and a songwriter. Her bittersweet melodies and exploration of sadness, loss and mortality are reminiscent of artists such as Lana del Rey and Lorde, but her unique vocal tones and simplistic instrumentals promise something new for pop. And if this EP is any indication, Cyrus will be carving a well-deserved place for herself in the music industry very soon.
Contact Nathalie Grogan at [email protected].