Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Unfortunately, the world was shocked on the 7th September 2018 to hear the news that Mac Miller had passed away from a supposed drug overdose which would later be confirmed. Malcom was a talented rapper, singer and songwriter who turned to substance abuse to get through the struggles in his life, and it's with regret to say his demons would be his downfall. A month prior to his death, he released the Grammy nominated 'Swimming', and now well over a year after his tragic death we get the follow up to that album, the posthumous album titled 'Circles'.
The album is an introspective piece focusing on the same themes as 'Swimming' such as heartbreak, depression and the coping methods of his inner struggles, yet, there seems to be more hope and optimism on this album than the last. Every thought he put on paper can be felt as if we are actually in his mind. His lyrics are soulful, much like his production commonly including light strings and synths that play on the ear switching from left to right channels. The switching makes your head spin almost like Mac's constantly was - it's unique and great - brilliantly pulled of by the album's executive producer Jon Brion who did a fantastic job and providing an album Mac would've liked. There's one liners all through this that hit really hard, such as: "Everybody's gotta live//And everybody's gonna die//Everybody just wanna have a good, good time" we hear on 'Everybody', which is devastating knowing he's no longer with us. It's not really a rap album, it's more a soul album with soulful production and singing, although at times the singing was too hoarse and didn't work to his advantage (to be critical) despite the fact for the most part it was beautiful.
To move through the track list, 'Circles' the title track was an okay start. It's content worked well for an introduction to this album showcasing the main themes over gentle, well worked production, however, his singing voice on this occasion was a bit dull but it was an alright song nether the less. We go from one extreme to the other on the track 'Complicated'. The beat. Oh my God the beat. It's so bouncy, and the synth keys are perfect over the soulful melody relaxing itself in the beat. Mac discusses getting through a days complications, and gets the content across so well it just sounds so good and has such a vibe to it. The next track 'Blue World' has another fantastic instrumental. It's a good song, and them claps in the beat make it such an enjoyable piece of work.
The lead and only single from the album, 'Good News', is a quality track. The production as usual is top tier. The plucky chords are soothing once you hear Mac start to sing over them - it's a great showcase of his mental state before his death where nothing makes sense, yet it does at the same time. "Oh, I hate the feeling// When you're high but you're underneath the ceiling". He was conflicted with his inner feelings and found many contradictions within himself. Moving forward, 'I Can See' is a pretty forgettable track for me but if that is Ariana Grande's vocals they have layered in the beat then I think that's pretty cute to be honest. Now, I'm not Mac Miller's biggest fan but 'Everybody' is gut wrenching. It made me emotional, the soul put into it and Mac acknowledging death is eerie, beautiful and hurts due to the circumstances. His melodies are remarkable at clashing with the guitar-based, harmonic beat.
'Hand Me Downs' has the only feature in the album in Baro. It's not somebody I'm familiar with but he does a good enough job. The main attraction of the song to me is the metaphor of hand me downs being passing on your genes - obviously with a woman he loves. 'Hands' is not my favourite track but it's a nice song and the only real rap song on the album performed over the vocal-pitched instrumental, and once again takes a focus on his behaviour and thoughts. "You throw me off my high horse, I'd probably fall to my death" is a particular favourite line of the album with Mac using a metaphor to suggest once you fall, you fall hard. As we approach the end, 'Surf''s hooks is really good and Mac's voice is a perfect fit yet the verses are a bit dull due to the tempo and pace being too slow for my liking, causing them to take a while to get through. In spite of a minor drop off towards the end, 'Once a Day' is a perfect end to the album and Mac Miller's discography. It's raw, acoustic, gentle and finishes abruptly almost like how Mac abruptly was taken from us.
The label have done Mac Miller justice. We've seen too many posthumous albums released as a cash grab. Thrown together for money. Here though, it sounds like what Mac would have wanted to be put out and despite dying only a month after his prior album released - it sounded complete. Happy birthday & rest easy Mac🕊
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Complicated, Blue World, Good News, Everybody, Hand Me Downs, Surf, Once a Day
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Hands
OVERALL RATING: Light 9.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*