Encased in lush, warmingly touching instrumentation, exquisite charm and mellow introspection, Circles is everything a posthumous album should be: fulfilling an artist's intended vision and completing the important final touches to a closing chapter when they're spiritually not with us. With much delicate care, it is truly the appropriate finale of Mac Miller's career.
As an outsider who finds difficulty in truly investing myself in Mac's music, Circles serves as perhaps that rare moment of psychological immersion where I truly feel as if I'm walking in the shoes of the artist: a broken man in trouble, coping with inner demons looking for a safe space to find emotional and mental redemption. I can only imagine just how close to heart this record will really hit with fans, those who may regard him as a hero who've gone through the same experiences, the same struggles, the same pains. On Circles, Mac Miller presents what is perhaps his most confidential, down-to-earth and elegantly intimate set of bittersweet, sentimental songs yet. Being the companion piece to his last major full-length record, Swimming, it is a splendidly sharp contrast into a more focused, reflective, forgiving, inviting, and delightful side of Mac's arduous struggles, shining a more positive light to Swimming's more sombre, depressing elements. In a way, what Circles perhaps demonstrates is a man beginning to find himself again in an alien world and reaching for a light in the distance. It seemed as if things were taking a turn for the better with Circles. Given the context surrounding Mac's untimely death, it makes the story and concept behind Circles infinitely more saddening and tragic, to know that in the end, Mac never got to see the light of day.
Had Mac Miller lived on to breathe another day and release Circles alive and well, I feel this record would not lose much (if any) of its dense emotional impact as perhaps one of Mac's most complete, fulfilling artistic statements. Putting aside the tragedy of Mac Miller, I am in awe with the sharp amount of focus and the alluring, unprecedented elegance in the production and aesthetic of Circles. Never before have I been this invested and engaged in a Mac Miller project. Filled with incredible, soulfully immersive funky neo-soul energy and charmingly reminiscent pop-rap style, Circles is an undoubtedly gorgeous and chillingly rhythmic journey. Even in its rather rough and incomplete stage, this record rarely loses its groove and enthralling passion. Its relentlessly sharp, fulfilled focus is an aspect I feel prior Mac Miller records like Swimming and The Divine Feminine were severely lacking to deliver an unforgettable "edge". Circles is, lovingly, a record indicative of Mac's maturity and artistic progression over the years.
To put it simply, this is a record one cannot take for granted. It is a rare, beyond-the-grave moment of aspirational sincerity, a moment of therapy and "zen" for a man who is perhaps finally at peace with himself. Circles is a fine delicacy of a record that serves as Mac Miller's most focused, undoubtedly mature, beautifully arranged, introspective, and generally, his best work as well in my humble opinion. Respect to Mac Miller, he knew not to leave his fans without a final genuine farewell message. <3 Rest in peace.
FAV TRACKS: Circles, Complicated, Good News, Everybody, Woods, Hand Me Downs, That's On Me
LEAST FAV TRACKS: Hands, Once A Day (If I Had To Pick)