On Mac Miller’s 5th studio album he flows on the fine line between stoicism and nihilism; being at peace with what life gives him and being too depressed to see the point in any of it; swimming and drowning.
The artwork for Mac’s latest offering is a culmination of his past projects. The white backdrop and pink suit are subtle odes to The Divine Feminine and GO:OD AM and you can also hear their influences sonically.
Come Back to Earth is a somber and cinematic intro that is followed with the J.Cole produced Hurt Feelings which is a bubbly instrumental with verses that pop. What’s the Use? Is a fun and funky track that is a spiritual successor to Dang from his previous album. Perfecto finds Mac experimenting with his flows and delivery. He’s at his most optimistic here, but also at his darkest and you hear it when he raps, “it ain’t perfect, but I don’t mind cause it’s worth it,” because that’s followed by another voice that tauntingly questions this sentiment with, “is it? Is it?” Mac has learned to swim, but the danger of drowning still looms over him.
Self Care finds Mac floating with an effortless cool and the second half has him preaching about the beauty in his struggles. Wings is a reverie like song where Mac tries to talk himself through his issues with anger. His conclusion is to not bet on the outcome of things he doesn’t have control over. The singing on this track might be hit or miss for people, but I found it to be tolerable without taking away too much from the song.
Ladders is the album’s centrepiece. He offers the listener some sound advice from what he’s learned in his life telling them that the high always comes crashing down and that its best to choose day when things get dark. The song structure itself reflects that sentiment with heavy lyrics paired with a colourful and vibrant instrumental that makes you want to hit the dance floor.
Small Worlds is about our own individual bubbles that we inhabit and it contrasts how we perceive the world with what it really is. The instrumental is very jazz based and it’s easily the bluest song on the album.
Conversation pt.1 is filled with swagger and confidence as Mac speaks on his haters. “…They ain’t on my wave, but they waving…” This isn’t a bad song, but it is easily overshadowed by the other tracks on the album.
Dunno starts the album’s streak of the best songs Mac has made in his career to date. It’s a beautifully patient and kind song. Jet Fuel is absurdly fire and very reminiscent of the vibe from his Faces project. 2009 is one of the best songs Mac has ever made period. It has a very vintage college dropout instrumental that will involuntarily lead to trips down nostalgia road.
Warning: may cause tears, so listen at your own discretion.
So It Goes is the final track and acts as a summary of the album. “You could have the world in the palm of your hands and still drop it.” So it goes. So it goes.
Filled with a strong sense of lyrical continuity and intricate production details that reward multiple listens, Mr. Miller has released his best album to date.