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Album Review: Circles by Mac Miller

The first piece I wrote with Mic Drop Music was on the passing of Mac Miller. It was an extremely personal piece for me that, editor and friend, Jessica O’Connor allowed me to publish. In a way, writing that piece allowed me to say goodbye and speak about someone who’s music meant so much to me.  While writing my first article, I never would’ve thought we would be hearing another Mac Miller project much less this soon after his passing. His family and estate have done an extremely great job at not allowing music from Mac to be released. They have expressed the fact that he wouldn’t have wanted his projects to be released without being finished properly.

There is an abundance of music in the Mac Miller vault. In an interview in 2013 he spoke on his home studio, “the sanctuary”, saying how everyone who was anyone had to make their way to his studio, he spoke on having songs with artists from Future to Little Dragon, and at the time of that he said he had roughly 600 songs in the vault, 5 years prior to his passing. Circles is a genuine Mac Miller project, Peter Rosenberg recently spoke on Circles and how it was nearly complete at the time of Malcolm’s death. Aside from some minor tweaks that producer Jon Brion, who worked with Mac on Swimming, was in charge of finishing.

The concept of Swimming and Circles is ‘Swimming n’ Circles’. The two are meant to be as a pair, one complementing the other. Much of the Swimming merch had the Yin and Yang signs on them. If you look at the Swimming album track list, as well as the single album covers, they are all in circles. That was a clear prelude, that we see now, to Swimming n’ Circles. As a fan you obviously are excited to hear another real album but part of me isn’t excited. Knowing he had plans and was still excited to say so much more leaves such a bitter sweet taste. When people are in pain and we lose them we can turn and hide behind the fact they were not happy where they were mentally and hopefully have found that release. Mac was happy though and wanted to be here. Getting this album now, while feeling like some sense of closure and a final goodbye, also reminds you there is a goodbye.

The first single ‘Good News’, dropped shortly after the announcement of Circles. It couldn’t have been a more perfect return. When it first starts with its dreamy beat and slow drums, and you hear Mac’s voice, it was over. It’s hard not to cry hearing this song and even harder not to associate the song with his passing. He asks questions like why does he have to stay, and things not being as good as people expect and them not wanting to be there because he isn’t giving out the good news they want. The accompanying video complements the song perfectly. Towards the end of the video you see Mac’s G-Wagon driving, no one is in the driver’s seat. An image of his dog Ralph, who was killed by coyotes years ago, in the passenger seat. Finally you notice Macs face in the rearview mirror, I’m crying as I type this and I’m not even watching it.

 

Where are you going?

Can I come too?

The whole world is open, a playground for me and you

 

The moment this album starts you know and can feel everything that Mac was making and all that he had been working towards cumulating to this project. These are songs your mother will love, and kids will sing. His singing is as good as it’s ever been and you get absorbed into every track. The production is gorgeous from top to bottom with some beats that feel like Saturday mornings and some that are cold nights by the fire. ‘Blue World’ will be a fan favorite as you dance through the Disclosure produced track, he gives lines like “Fuck the bullshit, I’m here to make it all better with a little music for you”. We slow back down into ‘I Can See’, ‘Good News’, and then we get to ‘Everybody’. It’s simple, precise, and one of my favorite songs here. Lyrically it is difficult as he sings “everybody’s got to die and everybody’s just trying to have a good time”. You can’t help but face how difficult some of the lyrics are to handle. He had always spoken heavily on his death but here it feels much more like he was preparing for what was coming. Woods and Hand me Downs are pure beauty, the latter having the only vocal feature we hear on the album, Mac comes in to rap and the waterworks hit. The entire album couldn’t be a better final project, he was peaking creatively and his talent shines. This is as good of a goodbye that he could’ve had for us. I don’t know what the afterlife holds but I know somewhere Mac is smiling.

circles

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