The first posthumous album by the late Mac Miller hits with an ironically optimistic somber tone. Originally intended to be a companion album to his 2018 Swimming, Circles was well into the recording process when Mac Miller’s untimely death occurred. In contrast to the late XXXTENTACION’s two haphazard sketchbook-style posthumous LP’s Circles flows and feels like a complete and cohesive artistic offering. Producer Jon Brion, who was originally working on the project, completed the album based on his ‘time and conversations’ with Mac Miller. With that framework and solid foundation Circles flawlessly flows, originally the sister album to Swimming the concept was ‘Swimming in Circles’ and thatoverall tone and content seeps into Circles.
The album is ironically somber, the soundscape crafted by Jon Brion at times purposefully does not match the melancholy state of mind in Mac’s lyrics. Themes consist of overcoming obstacles, mental health, optimism, the fragility of the mind, and the finality of life. Heavy topics almost all entirely sung, only 2 tracks boasts Mac’s traditional Hip-Hop delivery. Mac Miller wrestles with himself throughout the album detailing isolation, self destructive tendencies, and depression stating ‘if only I can get out of my goddamn way’ on ‘Good News’, the lead single off the album.
However the evolution of Mac Miller comes full circle on Circles, his carnal and hedonistic traits completely faded away and whats left is a deep introspection and artistic expansion. ‘I Can See’ shows an artist too aware of life’s big questions at a time eerily close to when he would transition to the next phase of existence. The transcendent feel is felt on the entire album ‘Everybody’, a cover of a 1972 song ‘Everybody’s Gotta Live’ performed by Arthur Lee, continues Mac’s existential examination. With a career spanning almost 10 years in the public eye we aren’t sure if another album from Mac Miller will ever see the light of day, as many unreleased songs are sure in the vault, but with Circles Mac’s artistic and spiritual journey comes full circle and reaches a much deserved poetic close.