Mac Miller
Swimming


4.5
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
December 28th, 2018 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I ain't asking why no more / nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind / it ain't 2009 no more / yeah I know what's behind that door

Mac Miller's death was tragic and unnecessary and could have been avoided. Worse than all that, it was signposted. I only became a fan in the handful of months leading up to Swimming's release and even I couldn't say I was surprised at the cause of death. The growing introversion and reluctance to deal with the outside world on Watching Movies With the Sound Off, an obsession with writing about himself overdosing over and over again on Faces, a bone-chilling verse where he imagines his mother getting the news on "Perfect Circle / Godspeed". The unspoken understanding amongst Mac fans was that his best work was created heavily on drugs, like Layne Staley's or Trent Reznor's or a long line of others before him. Some would have been happy to argue that he should relapse to drugs so he could make great music again - I remember jubilant comments like 'DRUG MAC IS BACK' greeting the release of "Self Care", a song Mac Miller wrote about his efforts to want to stay alive. But who knew at the time? To be crystal clear, there's no hidden vista of talent that was only exposed to the world after Mac Miller's death, no Grammy-worthy performative reflection on death that could only fully take shape after its maker had ceased living. If there's one constant across Mac's discography it's that he wore his heart on his sleeve, whether that was the love-and-sex-struck The Divine Feminine or his darkest suicidal ideations on Faces. The open-hearted earnestness, stunning production, the way he could share his vision with - and expand it to include - an incredible lineup of featured artists. All were always there if you cared to listen.

So yeah. I loved this funky, funny, sad, silly album from the second I heard it and my feelings didn't massively change when Mac Miller died. Yes, songs like "Dunno" and "Wings", which I previously thought of as lesser, wormed their way into my subconscious, but repeat listens probably would have done that anyway. Yes, there are lines in "Self Care" and "So It Goes" that are unbearably sad now, but these were beautiful and powerful lines before their writer died. My sneaking feeling from the first listen, one which blossomed into a certainty recently, was that I was hearing an artist hitting his peak. Many would choose the dark-night-of-the-soul odyssey Faces, one of the best mixtapes this decade; or Watching Movies With the Sound Off as the first demonstration of what Mac Miller could really do; even GO:OD AM or The Divine Feminine as his most joyful celebrations of what music can do. None are bad choices (unless you a weirdo and pick Blue Slide Park or something before), but Swimming is his most complete work. The transition from "Self Care" to "Wings" is so damn effortless, but it's the kind of thing an artist could work on for years without perfecting. Before this only Faces had attempted perfect flow, and that's not an album; Swimming is gorgeously content in its completeness, every song in its right place and ready to set up the next. It also just sounds like Mac's best work - there's nothing as instantly breathtaking as the "Apparition" outro or the "S.D.S." carnival-ride beat, but this album weaves the disparate talents of Jon Brion, Thundercat, Mac's alter ego and more into one thirteen-part movement with a deft hand. Brion, especially, eclipses even his contributions to Late Registration all those years ago, whether he's fleshing out the beats with piano on "Small Worlds" and "2009" or taking a swing at transcribing the ascent to heaven to a synth solo on "So It Goes".

I try really hard to look at Swimming objectively, argue for its merits based purely on its quality - which alone made it, for this writer, an album of the year contender - and not on the tragedy that it will forever be associated with. But there's an exception to that rule, and that's "2009". It's amazing what you can do with a great melody for piano and vocals, and "2009" doesn't need a whole lot more. The chorus gently ebbs in and out, Mac's charming scratch of a voice perfectly suited to deliver the clear-eyed, reflective lines, ones you'd need a heart of stone to hear without feeling the loss of a far-too-young man weighing on your mind. If Swimming is the masterstroke of an artist who left too soon, "2009" is its crown jewel, a song it's easy to believe ten years of music was leading up to.

"I ain't asking why no more / nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind / it ain't 2009 no more / yeah I know what's behind that door".

RIP Mac Miller, 1992-2018



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user ratings (144)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

quick thing. happy holidays all

Digging: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - Bird Box (Abridged)

Hawks
December 28th 2018


66749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

RIP ahrd. Album rules.

Digging: Polaris (AUS) - The Mortal Coil

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

didn't see you diggin this Hawks, hell yeah

neekafat
December 28th 2018


13928 Comments


wait this didn't have a review? fuck, missed opportunity! excited to check anyway (:

Hawks
December 28th 2018


66749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I’ve always loved Mac bro, I live like 20 mins from where his parents live.

FreddieDelaney31
December 28th 2018


5168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Really breaks my heart, RIP

Great review

Digging: Hodera - First Things First

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yea idk I mainly wrote this because it killed me this didn't have a review. thanks tho y'all

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Mac had a fuckin crazy run from 2013 till this year, I don't even like GO:OD or Divine that much but I respect em af

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
December 28th 2018


2733 Comments


probably one of my favourite reviews of yours, dude. can’t even think of an unnecessary dumb comment.

rip mac.

Hawks
December 28th 2018


66749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I saw him live with Wiz in 2011 when both were just starting to blow up. Kendrick was there (before he blew up too) as a supporting act with Schoolboy Q. Such a great time man.

DANcore
December 28th 2018


351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His growth and maturation from BSP to this really was impressive. Thank you for writing this



RIP

Zeiu
December 28th 2018


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this album. Glad there's a review for this now because it really is a great flowing album that clearly had a lot of thought and love put into it. Reading up on it, allegedly the concept was to have another album come out after called Circles. Programs and Buttons were meant to be on it, it was meant to be a much more positive album and a sequel to Swimming. I'm glad I listened to this, it opened me up to his other music which I'm loving. If you like this album, check out Faces and Good AM. RIP





Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

probably one of my favourite reviews of yours, dude. can’t even think of an unnecessary dumb comment.




gosh dang ya too sweet ramon : 3



Circles might still come out I heard? I think he had recorded a bunch for it and I would kill for another Mac album but hopefully it's not just some unfinished scraps... Buttons and Programs are both bangers

Hawks
December 28th 2018


66749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

From what I’ve heard he has a shit ton of stuff that hasn’t been released and I’m pretty positive that they have something in the works. Idk about a release date or anything obviously but I won’t be surprised if we get another Mac album or two in the future.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

there's more than six albums' worth of unreleased Mac lol, but we'll never hear most of it. I'd be happy with stuff from these sessions tho, the other stuff is probably unreleased for good reason

Zeiu
December 28th 2018


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hope so, but who knows what we'll get if any. I imagine if they have access to it they'll put out some stuff at some point. Not sure how that works, I imagine he kept a lot of work locked up in some way. It sounds like he was an absolute workhorse when it came to his music, lots of projects unreleased.

Hawks
December 28th 2018


66749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I’m sure a lot of it isn’t even close to done. Whole city is still mourning this guy’s loss. I was in Bridgeville (about 10 mins or so from where Mac grew up) a few weeks ago and all the little shops on the particular block I was on had RIP Mac signs in the windows. So fucking sad man.

Zeiu
December 28th 2018


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mac Miller was the third most searched term on Google in 2018. Absolutely insane the impact he had.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
December 28th 2018


41010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

PSA for everyone, Mac's subreddit has a pinned google drive with all the shit he ever released - like all of it



some of those soundcloud loosies are some of his best work

Storm In A Teacup
December 28th 2018


25796 Comments


"I saw him live with Wiz in 2011 when both were just starting to blow up. Kendrick was there (before he blew up too) as a supporting act with Schoolboy Q. Such a great time man."

Lucky. Hawks can't be known as a metal guy anymore. In general, he's just lit.



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