Why is there so much pushback against Mac Miller? Ok, ‘Donald Trump’ hasn’t aged well, but whether he was dialing in on Method Man back in 1998 or serving as the punchline for another vaguely recent bop for Rae Sremmurd, Trump is an unfortunately well-documented facet of hip hop culture: we can’t put it all on the frat-looking chap. His appearance hasn’t helped, somehow lumped in with the likes of Asher Roth by many, a comparison so baseless we needn’t address it further.

For whatever reason, a lot of you seem to have it in for Mr. Miller. Blue Slide Park may not have signaled the arrival of a noteworthy voice, but Miller has clawed his way towards a proper vision ever since, from the strong, if still not quite truly his own, Watching Movies with the Sound Off to the increasingly more realized projects since; the young man has diligently carved out a respectable space not enough seem to acknowledge.

Where The Divine Feminine was starry-eyed, his return here on Swimming is largely dour and, above all, in constant search of that slight peace seemingly just out of reach for so many of us. Contrary to assumptions, this is not an Ariana Grande break up album, largely recorded prior to their split. It’s hard not to imagine catching glimpses of what led to the couple’s demise, and try as he might, his latest is sure to be pegged as a breakup record.

What’s more, as much as it might annoy Miller, it makes for a hell of one. A special one at that. Where does your mind go when you think break up music?

Ryan Adams inevitably comes to mind for myself, but whether you reach for Here, My Dear, Blood on the Tracks, Set Yourself on Fire, or something more recent a la Björk, the songs (however undeniably brilliant) tend to remain the same. These are epics about the person who done you wrong. Or perhaps the person you wronged, you jerk. The point being, breakup songs tend to take the problem head on, helping you shed those tears you damn well know you need to let out already.

What really happens when you end a serious relationship? I don’t know about you, but I’m not normally hanging up that phone call ready to toss out odes to love lost. Its to varying degrees, to be sure, but we freak the fuck out. For ourselves: what do I do know? What am I really working towards without a partner? I have to date again?

At least while flailing in a bubble just burst, we’re ready to process just about anything but that shit. What I’ve been doing may have worked for two, but does it work for me? Whatever headspace produced Swimming, it captures this perfectly. At least at the time of recording, Mac Miller had it all: the money, a girl so beautiful he wonders aloud here as to her humanity, the whip (we know what happened there), and, yet, malaise and fear crept into near every note.

As affairs begin with the distant, nearly alien ‘Come Back to Earth’, it’s not hard to picture a bleary-eyed, properly stoned Miller gazing out at the Bibio-level perfection of his ascendant dwellings, only to muse, “I got neighbors that are more like strangers / that could be friends. … I’d do anything for a way out, of my head.” With the hardly subtle, creeping sense of urban dread throughout Swimming, it’s not entirely absurd to think of it as something of a laidback, hip hop And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.

Reductive comparisons notwithstanding, this is very much a Mac Miller statement. If he found his stride nearly three years ago with GO:OD AM, he’s now confidently in full control, guiding Swimming down a surprisingly restrained, subtle journey into a heart’s bleakest turmoil.

All this, to be sure, makes the album sound mired in sadness, and while Miller’s depression certainly rears its head, it’d be far more accurate to call Swimming and album of acceptance. As lead single ‘Self Care / Oblivion’ segues into its latter namesake, Mac simply refrains, “Can you feel it now? Oblivion, yeah yeah.” He doesn’t sound saddened. He just sounds knowing.

Impending heartbreak be damned, this is just adulthood. “Do you want it all if it’s all mediocre?,” Miller wonders aloud, with only a slight betrayal of emotion on ‘Small Worlds’. This attitude pervades much of the affairs here, while Miller finally lets himself enjoy the high a bit on the likes of 'Jet Fuel' and ‘Conversation’, he’s still avoiding reality on the former, only to be concerned by the strangers around him on the latter, offering, “Everybody dangerous.”

We often can't see how we really effect those around us until it's too late. If Miller did indeed record Swimming prior to the implosion of his relationship, with no cruelty intended, it's not particularly hard to imagine what might have brought about its end. With stars in our eyes, it's all too easy to assume they'll forever remain in our partner's. There's only so much your dream girl can do when you're still learning to care for yourself, and sadly, self-pity can so easily double as hubris. Miller has simply come to understand the difference. You bet it hurts, but he's figuring it out. Maybe we can too.