Beautifully crafted with expert lyricism, Noah Cyrus's EP flaunts a wiseness in youth that offers a unique listening experience.
Shortly after wondering when Noah Cyrus’ would gift us with her next “big project” in an earlier article, the release of THE END OF EVERYTHING couldn’t have come at a more appropriate and appreciated time. Uniting previous singles like ‘Lonely’, ‘I Got So High That I Saw Jesus’, and ‘July’ with album treats like ‘Liar’ and the phenomenal ‘Young & Sad’, Noah Cyrus continues to expand her discography at a steady rate, resisting big LP releases and favouring smaller EPs in a strategy that more than pays off once again.
Opening with ‘Ghost’, Noah draws you in with some melancholic piano chords and a haunting twang to her a beautiful voice. With hints of synthy-pop beats driving the chorus and flaunting a more pop-orientated sound, she continues to breach an equilibrium between pop and country that gives her a distinct sound and as well as being a celebratory quality surrounding the album. However, it’s in ‘I Got So High That I Saw Jesus’ where those country roots are most celebrated in the EP as a simple guitar melody, and the build-up of a steady drumbeat offers a soft country sound that is a lot more accessible than mainstream country music. For some listeners, this is the closest they’ll get to country music (myself included), and Noah seems to expertly navigate her style of sound that gives her a more singer-songwriter vibe rather than full-blown country-western music. What makes the song stick out even more though is its hounding sense of pessimism picked up from the previous track, using the religious figures to create an ugly picture of the modern world. It fits perfectly with the overarching theme that the EP sets up and demonstrates Cyrus’ lyric-writing as phenomenal, adding complexity to a song that could be passed off as quite simple if you didn’t pay enough attention to what she’s singing about.
The EP also offers a feeling of vulnerability as well as showcasing Noah’s mistakes along the way. ‘Liar’ mediates on the lies we tell and the cost they have, dealing with the idea of lying to mitigate disaster only to ensue disaster in a different way. It’s startling as the song’s lyricism seems so raw and Noah manages to sing with hopelessness in her voice that resonates with pangs of guilt and wrongs. It offers an honest picture of Noah and the fallibility of humans, fitting perfectly with the songs that follow it while continuing this impending sense of doom that encompasses the whole EP. Maintaining the same despairing vibe are the songs ‘Lonely’ and ‘Young & Sad’, both great in their own ways. ‘Lonely’ keeps in tune with the EP’s aims of showcasing lyrics with simplistic accompaniment, but the song really shines in its the chorus. Using a choir of voices in harmony with Noah’s on the lines ‘help me’, ‘lonely’, and ‘family’; the song juxtaposes the voices against its theme of loneliness in a moment that highlights the depth that the album aspires to. It’s another song and another moment that preaches an aching sense of pain and fragility in Noah, offering enough themes and ideas that anyone struggling with life or mental health issues may find something to recognize in themselves through Noah’s music.
Although, it’s ‘Young & Sad’ which is the true highlight of the album and instantly became one of my favourite songs after listening to it once. Opening with a voice note for Noah’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, the song gently launches into an examination of being young and sad, offering the poignant moments in the lyrics like ‘they say you should smile more’, ‘I’m tired of trying to please some’ and ‘Don’t want to feel numb or mad until I go under’. It’s a song filled with raw emotion and expectation to hide feelings, cover them up with a smile, and most notable the desire to be happy when happiness seems unachievable. It’s a song that carries a lot of weight and sentiments but becomes the phenomenal highlight on a great EP, only solidifying my awe and love for Noah Cyrus as an artist.
The final three songs that make up the EP effectively begin to draw the album to a close. ‘July’ meditates on relationships and hints at emotional abuse and neglect. It’s another heavy song that is lessened in weight with its surprisingly uplifting guitar backing and a tuneful whistling during the chorus. It’s a moment of reprieve while still dealing with big themes and issues that the whole EP hones in on. While ‘Wonder Years’ is another song in the same vein, it’s notably the least accomplished and least interesting. It follows a generic pop trend that sticks out amongst the rest of the songs and favours a little too much autotune to embody the rare accomplishment that all the other songs have. It’s a song I listened to once and skip every time after. Finally, the title track ends to EP on notes of death, pain, and beauty; before rounding the tracks to an excellent close. It maintains that sense of pessimistic darkness and yet the melody and soft-country sounds give it a lighthearted appeal that attests to the seriousness of what Noah sings about. It shifts the scale of worry from human vulnerability and fallibility to the inevitable death of the universe – the quite literal end of everything.
Surpassing her first EP and delivering some of the best songs of her career, Noah has yet again impressed with such a well-rounded addition to her discography. With the exception of one song, this EP is something of unrivalled bittersweetness, carried by its haunting visions of humanity and death.
Noah Cyrus’ THE END OF EVERYTHING EP is out now via LLC/ Columbia.