Album review: circles is the perfect unintended posthumous closing curtain

Circles is the 49-minute posthumous new album by deceased Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Malcolm McCormick AKA Mac Miller. Mac Miller tragically passed away two years ago at the age of 26 of an accidental drug overdose, about a month after his last previously released album Swimming. Mac Miller began working on Circles along with his previous album Swimming, and as songwriter/record producer Jon Brion puts it, Circles was meant to be a “companion album” to 2018’s Swimming as a part of a trilogy of albums with the last album being a “pure hip-hop record.”

Mac Miller had already completed most of the album before his passing and Jon Brion completed what was left to do based on his conversations with Mac Miller. The album’s existence was then revealed to the world by Mac Miller’s family via the late rapper’s Instagram account with his family remarking, “It was important to Malcolm for the world to hear it.” The album has no features on it, which only feels right considering the circumstances behind the release. The only single from the album, “Good News” was released January 9, 2020, followed by the whole album eight days later.

The first song on the album “Circles” opens and sounds more like a eulogy than a song, as Mac Miller continues to address themes about himself in relation to the world with a lo-fi melody playing in the background. Jon Brion also commented to Zach Lowe on Apple Music that he added a cymbal and vibraphone to this track. The next song, “Complicated” is also a song that Miller played for Jon Brion before his passing. The third track “Blue World” turns from the somber feel of the first two tracks to a higher spirited tempo that, at the same time, does not escape from the lo-fi feel that the album has up to this point. In the song, Mac Miller laments to the listener how things are a little crazy and shady in the world, but his message is “don’t trip about it.” This is easily one of the more enjoyable songs in the album. Following it, we have “Good News” which was the only single that was released from the album. This song also has a lo-fi/softcore feel to it and at this point, you’ll probably understand that lo-fi/softcore is going to be an overarching them in this album.

From here, the next couple of songs explore the many different concepts that Mac Miller has been talking in an abundance about since his fourth studio album The Divine Feminine. “I Can See” sounds like a piece of poetry brought to life by Mac’s vocals and “Woods” has him exploring the concept of love and loneliness in another up-tempo lo-fi beat. “Hand Me Downs” has a Swimming-vibe to it as if it should be on that album and features Mac Miller reflecting on his state of mind and the way he copes to keep himself sane despite all that went on around him. The final song on the album “Once a Day” was originally recorded on his phone and was added to the album as the closing track

 Overall, the album is a great curtain-closing-in album form for a music career that ended too quickly. Mac Miller touched the hearts of people everywhere and his affinity to help others even when he needed help showed his selflessness and just how great of a human being he was. Circles ultimately gives us one final glimpse into the mind of Mac Miller, his feelings, passions and his thoughts. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best, I give Circles a 4.5.

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