Mac Miller - Circles
Jan 17, 2020 (updated Jan 30, 2020)
100
Edit: Yeah, it’s not just a fantastic send-off, but it’s the culmination of his gradual maturation as an artist through the years. A fulfilled vision that I have all the respect and admiration for.

A posthumous album done right. Everything is handled with care on Circles, and it’s the sweetest send-off someone could have in a time of such turmoil.

Circles, and it’s companion album, are times where Mac’s heavy reflection on mortality, family, friends, and love are hard to sit through. Not because of presentation or some kind of other distraction. It’s because the way Mac views the little things in life is so refreshing and heartfelt that it’s twice as hard to swallow once you know this is maybe the last time we hear from him. The album feels a lot like a love letter to his friends, fans, family. Whether that’s a common comparison I’m not sure entirely, but it’s undeniable how much it feels that way.

The production on here is so heavenly, so beautiful, and so in tune with Mac’s voice. As I heard it more and more, I got progressively more and more upset with how tough it is to swallow Mac’s absence. Not as just a musician, but as a person. Everyone in the industry has always said he never had a negative thing to say. In the memories we have of him it’s clear that to most, he was just a bright kid.

Listening to this album, all I could think of was how hard it is to listen to how soft, comforting, and warm Mac’s presence is. It’s like the final hug you get before someone leaves a family gathering. You say goodbye, everything is feel-good...you’ll see them again, right? Except this time you maybe never get a chance to talk once more, and you’re left with the warmth you felt in that moment. Circles is that warmth, that feeling you get when you reflect on old memories.

It was apparent that this was going to be the energy we were getting just off the first single, Good News. Mac’s cathartic and heartbreaking meditation on isolation. The instrumental is breezy and so...beautiful. Mac’s singing is just so relaxing, even though he’s singing about his disconnect from friends and family because of his own mental issues. Hearing lines such as “Why does everybody need me to stay / Good news, that’s all they wanna hear / They don’t like me when I’m down” and...then dwelling on how he has a lot more waiting for him on the other side, after death. I didn’t cry much at the time of its release, but I can say that in the albums tracklist, it’s a lot more provocative than I imagined it would be.

On the other side of that messaging, there is a few moments where Mac is acknowledging the hole he’s leaving behind. Mostly on the track Woods (ultimately, the one that made me cry the most) which has this melancholy instrumental with punchy drums and this sea of synths that swells and compresses throughout the track. It’s Mac’s time to reflect on who’s being left behind, what will his status be resolved as? How will he be remembered? It’s almost blackstar like in the way he faces his demise in the wake of everything. It’s another moment where you just realize...how much pain were you in, Mac? The same goes for Everybody. His singing is a little less passable on this track, but the melody is hard-hitting and the core message of the track is too. Mac is mulling over the small things in life and stressing about how much joy they can bring before you have to leave the earth. It’s so eerie once again, just how reflective Mac is after everything that has happened. Overall the song is just very pleasant to listen to, very soothing.

Now, when I started the album originally, I was in my third class for today. Upon first listen it...really didn’t feel like much. It felt genuine and heavenly. There was a bright tone amongst dark content which tackled the details of the previously mentioned themes...in a really great way. I thought it was clever and respectable, but the more I listened, the more it hurt to know that this was goodbye. I have trouble believing it. It’s barely even really clicked yet that’s it’s the end of a cycle for Mac. Someone so young shouldn’t have to come to such raw and unfulfilled conclusions...it’s so gutting, and messed up.

In the end though, his team behind the album did a good job in that everything was done to make sure a complete and beautiful effort came out to finish the career of someone admired by everyone. It doesn’t toy with your emotions, it brings them out. Gives them a hug and some consolation, and ultimately stifles the pain of finding clarity in the passing of someone gone far too soon.

...and to anyone who may be thinking that the praise from people overall is from sympathy over a lack of insight, no. There is more at hand than just a posthumous release being done right. I didn’t think that would have to be stated.

Rest In Peace, Malcolm James McCormick.

- Favourite Tracks -

* Woods
* Good News
* Everybody
* Complicated
* Hand Me Downs
3 Comments
Jan 17, 2020
Great review! RIP to a real one, I wish I was able to look past the misconception I had of him as a goofy frat rapper while he was still alive. I felt like I lost a friend that day he passed even though I was never a big fan of his. The more I realized how multifaceted and complex he was, the more I am saddened about his untimely passing.
Feb 3, 2020
Really a fantastic review. I really relate to the way this album continually provides these epiphanies that provoke you to think more about Mac, his legacy, and his artistry, and what it means for this to be the untimely bookend of a blossoming reinvention in his career. Thanks for sharing
Feb 15, 2020
hip hop not r&b dope album awesomeness
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