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Album Review: Circles by Mac Miller

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With permission from the family, Circles is a posthumous release from Mac Miller who passed away in 2018. After giving family and friends time to grieve and process Mac Miller's death, they decided to allow his record label to release Circles, which was in the works before he passed. Normally I am not excited for posthumous releases since some record labels can use it as a "cash cow." However, I think this release wasn't intended for that purpose and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album.

Right at the beginning of the album we have the title track, Circles. The track starts off light and quiet with some bell-like instruments. When Mac Miller's vocals come in, you can just hear the emotion and the pain he was in and what he was trying to show his fans. On the track, he talked about being directionless and going in circles. Basically, whenever he started doing better, he just ended up going back to the beginning and not progressing.

After that, we have a more upbeat and synth-heavy track called Complicated. On this track, he talks about the struggles of everyday life and wants to get through a day without any "complications." Mac Miller also talks about cleaning up his current messes of the day before going on with the next day.

At the beginning of Blue World, it features a quick snippet from It's A Blue World by The Four Freshmen. Throughout the rest of the track, they take quick vocal samples and use that as the beat in the background. While this isn't new (Jamie xx actually used the same track and sampled it for Sleep Sound), I really feel like Mac Miller's vocals fit perfectly over the beat. He is also reminiscing about his ex, Ariana Grande, during the second verse.

Good News was the only single off the album and was used to promote this album. Instrumentally, it's pretty minimal, but it has some beautiful chords played over it. Just like the first track, you can hear the emotion and his pain in his voice. Like many others listening to this track, it's hard not to tear up on this track since some of these lyrics have a whole new meaning with his passing. Mac Miller asks questions like why people need him to stay or why can't he catch a break. He also talks about he's so tired of being so tired, which can be linked to depression. Overall, it's a track that has been growing on me and talks about his struggles in life.

I Can See brings us back with some electronic noises with some synths. A lot of these tracks, especially this one, have a soulful feeling to it instead of a rap/hip-hop sound. Also, the strings during the verses gives a space and dream-like feeling to the track. There have been rumors about Ariana Grande providing uncredited background vocals. Mac Miller talks about you can be living in a dream state until you wake up. Then you can drop so quickly once that reality starts to set in for you.

Next, Everybody starts off with a slow piano with him singing over it. Then when the chorus of people comes in, a drumbeat accompanies the vocals. It's a feel-good track about trying to live your best life, but some fans have taken a darker approach with the line, "Everybody's gotta live and everybody's gonna die."

After that we have Woods. This is another minimal track off the album, which seems to be a reoccurring theme. On this track, he talks about love, heartbreak, and how things aren't meant to last. This is another track where he could be referencing Ariana Grande, especially in the second verse.

Hand Me Downs starts off with a smooth acoustic guitar that repeats the same few chords throughout the track. This track also features Baro on the chorus. I don't mind his voice on the track, but I think the layers of his voice and potential audio editing of his voice takes away from the rawness and minimalism of the track.

Another catchy and more upbeat track is That's On Me. It starts off with a chorus that is layered with different vocals from him. On this track, Mac Miller seems to be talking about how he was doing okay, but also admits to his faults.

Hands is the next track off the album which has a midi-like backing instrumental. Also, we get to hear more of a rapping-style track from Mac Miller. He also tells people to not be so down and try to live your life to the fullest.

Surf is another track off the album that is just a little over five minutes long. It starts off with a guitar melody with some extra guitar chords thrown in here and there. We eventually get some drum beats sprinkled in. Towards the end of the track, we have a guitar solo outro.

The last track off of the album is Once A Day. It starts off with an electronic sounding piano that eventually grows throughout the track. I also enjoyed the elongated notes that drone in and out quickly. It's a beautiful track to end the album but I wish it was longer.

The final album from Mac Miller and it's definitely a special one for fans and music listeners alike. It takes you on a special trip and really brings you into his mind and mode of thinking. For people wanting that one last record from him, this is a perfect ending to his story.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Favorite Tracks: Complicated, Good News, I Can See, That's On Me, Once A Day

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