It is, per usual, a weird time to be alive. While there’s a lot of good happening in the world, there also seems to be a lot of bad and even more that lies in between. While I struggle to find the words to describe it, Noah Cyrus perfectly captures the melancholic limbo of being young in a tumultuous 2020 in her second EP, “The End of Everything“.
It’s the kind of sad album that is deeply relatable and impressive in its ability to elucidate feelings that can be hard to explain.
“The End of Everything” is heartbreaking. Each song is tinged with desperation and an intense feeling of exhaustion. Not the tired and sleepy type of exhaustion, but the kind that comes from months of trying to push through uncertainty.
Cyrus perfectly captures the sadness of everyday life right now. Whether you’re going through a tough time or not, Cyrus’ album will speak to you because it details the human experience. You’ll feel empathy for her, and for yourself, in a way that not many EPs can pull off.
To be clear, I don’t want to paint “The End of Everything” as entirely depressing. In a way, it’s oddly comforting. It’s refreshing to hear Cyrus sing about how she really feels, especially because her songs are extremely personal and incredibly universal all at once.
In the EP’s most popular song, “July,” Cyrus tackles her breakup with her last boyfriend. It’s a heartbreaking tale in which you can’t help but feel sorry for her. In the pop-country ballad with beautiful tinges of folk, she details a toxic relationship that eventually brought her to her lowest and most depressive point. “July” is about the intense fear of the future keeping Cyrus from escaping a horrible relationship.
“I’ve done a lot of things wrong / Loving you being one / But I can’t move on,” she sings.
It’s the kind of song that gives you permission to be sad when listening to it. At the same time, however, Cyrus’s hauntingly beautiful voice and quiet strums of her guitar leave you feeling comforted and safe in her vulnerable presence.
Cyrus’s song “Young and Sad” opens with a voicemail from her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, who encourages her to put a smile on her face because everything will be okay. Despite this start, “Young and Sad” details every reason why Cyrus can’t just smile and move on.
She recounts her childhood growing up as Miley Cyrus’s younger sister, saying, “My sister’s like sunshine / Always bringing good light / Wherever she will go / Yet I was born on rain clouds / When they blew the flame out / Blessed in her shadows.”
Here, Cyrus sings about the exhaustion that comes from being in a dark and depressive period for a long time. Although she’s tired of being sad, she explains that it’s not easy to let go and it’s not as simple as putting a smile on your face. “Young and Sad” is a refreshing look at sadness and youth, which aren’t often talked about in conjunction with each other.
In the surprisingly religious “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus”, Cyrus sings about a spiritual experience she had while high on drugs. The song is filled with Christian imagery.
“And sometimes, it hurts too much to look / Like Moses said, the burning bush / I tried to turn away, but I could see / And he said, “Fathers, don’t forsake your sons / There’s so much kingdom left to come,” Cyrus sings.
Cyrus wonderfully plays with the juxtaposition of drugs and religion, connecting the two to illustrate how both are used as a coping mechanism.
“And I got so high that I saw Jesus / He said it’s all gonna be okay,” Cyrus sings.
Starting with a simple folk-like guitar strum, “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus” picks up as the song goes on, using a pleasant beat to move away from the folk guitar before finally transitioning back at the end. The song is one of the album’s most upbeat, and it’s not a song that you hear every day, which makes it easily one of the album’s best songs. If you want a real treat, check out the version of “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus” where Noah and Miley sing it as a duet.
Have you ever wanted to hug someone you’ve never met? That’s how I felt after listening to “Lonely”, a heartbreaking song about Cyrus’s depression. The song starts with the line “I’m slowly killing myself,” preparing listeners for a melody filled with hopelessness. Unlike many of the other songs in the album, “Lonely” isn’t low-key. It’s a song that’s unapologetically sad and desperate, detailing the loneliness of depression and, sometimes, life. Cyrus’s voice overflows with emotion while singing and you can tell that the song means a lot to her.
I know I keep saying that this album is heartbreaking, but that’s because it really is. Cyrus is able to uniquely mix incredibly personal emotions and thoughts with the universality of loneliness and sadness.
In her poppiest song of the album, Cyrus collaborates with Ant Clemens on “Wonder Years,” a relaxed duet between the two very impressive singers. The song borrows its melody from The Beatles’ song “With A Little Help From My Friends” but adds modern beats and haunting harmonies in the background. Cyrus and Clemens are a vocal match made in heaven and the song is a perfect escape from the sadness of the rest of the album, though “Wonder Years” is actually quite melancholic if you listen to the lyrics.
“The End of Everything,” the last song in Cyrus’s album, is an ode to, well, the end of everything. The song, though just as sad as the rest of the album, has an odd sense of comfort to it. Cyrus starts the song with a softly existential, “Everyone you love is gonna die,” and while that lyric is shocking at first, it grows on you as the song continues. The lyrics proceed in a tug-of-war of sad emotions and comforting thoughts, making the song a perfect melancholy ode to the human condition.
Cyrus sings, “Everything you fear is gonna end / All your hate and hurt lost to the wind” and mixes this thought with “And there might not be a sadder thing / Than watching Saturn lose her rings.” Cyrus isn’t trying to sugarcoat the sadness of deaths and ends, but she is describing how it comforts her, reflecting a human desire for small comforts in the face of big, inescapable fears.
“The End of Everything”, which was aptly released mid-quarantine in May 2020 when it felt like the world was ending, is a refreshing look at sadness, mental health and the ups and downs of being young. Cyrus has proven that she’s not just an extension of her famous family but rather a vocal and songwriting powerhouse unlike any other musician in pop right now. Cyrus leans into her country-folk background and produces a heartbreaking, melancholic album with immense comforting powers. If there is ever a time to listen to Noah Cyrus, that time is right now.