Rating: 5 out of 5
Mac Miller’s family recently released Circles, which he was working on at the time of his death on January 17, 2020. This album was supposed to be a companion to his fifth album, “Swimming” which was released in August of 2018. American producer John Brion helped finish “Circles” and bridged the gap between “Swimming” and “Circles”. “Circles,” his opening track, is very well done and has influences of jazz, with soft guitar and smooth bass. The lyrics in this song project his struggle with his demons, saying “Well, this is what it look like right before you fall, Stumblin’ around, you’ve been guessing your direction.”
“Good News” has a soft melody, accompanied by a faint beat and the plucking of guitar strings. The song is sweet and sad, with lines such as, “I’m running out of gas, hardly anything left.” It feels like Miller is talking more than rapping, expressing his true emotions. I feel like this line shows his mindset before dying. He is struggling with depression, too tired to carry on.
“Everybody”, a cover of the song “Everybody’s Gotta Live”, is a somber piano ballad that pulls at the heartstrings with extremely raw lyrics. This cover is timeless and very well done. It has a moderate beat with emphasis from the drums. Accompanied with his unique voice, it is very soothing. “Hand Me Downs’ ‘ is a beautiful expression of the desire to have children in the future. When he is singing, you can tell that Miller’s soul aches. These songs are the most heart wrenching to listen to, since he died so young. Although the song “Complicated” also had melancholy lyrics, this song carries a more upbeat tone with a funky synthesizer and popping bass. The song “I Can See” displays his rapping and lyrical composition brilliantly. Miller raps: “inside my head is getting pretty cluttered. I’ve tried but can’t clean up this mess I’ve made.” The struggle between reality and dreaming is apparent, Miller is wishing for things to be less complicated. Everything in the present world is too overwhelming and feels like a weight bearing down on Miller. The song “Blue World” is more positive, with great background vocals, a catchy beat, and great timing on Miller’s part. This is a excellent rap song with playful sound effects, Such as a voice loop and a jittery beat, and a smooth finish.
“Circles’ ‘ has a tracklist of 12 songs. This album is a reminder of talent gone too soon. With simple instrumentals that draw the center of attention to Miller’s voice, this album strips one down to the rawest of emotions. The 48 minutes are very beautiful and real. If you want to listen to a different take on rap and have never listened to Miller’s work, I highly recommend this album.