Mac Miller’s fifth studio album ‘Swimming’ came out a little over a month before his untimely death at 26 years old. Now, it has been nearly two years since Miller’s death and the void Miller’s death has left on the music scene has become painfully apparent. With ‘Circles’, fans get a much needed dose of new music from the late-rapper. Listening to the album is an undeniably tragic experience; not just because of it’s sad lyrical content, but because ‘Circles’ doesn’t sound like a final goodbye, but like the release of an artist finding increasing clarity of purpose while climbing towards the apex of their career. Every part of this album – even down to the sudden ending of final track ‘Once a Day’ – leaves listeners wanting more from Miller (not because this album is lacking, but because the artist had so much more to give to the world).
‘Circles’ begins with it’s title track; with an understated melody, and lyrical content suggesting Miller was beginning to find some peace. Second track ‘Complicated’ is something of a lull in the track-listing, but the album quickly gets back on track with third track ‘Blue World’; an album highlight and easily the most accessible song on ‘Circles’. Then, the album continues on this high note with ‘Good News’; a more sombre track where Miller says “[I’m] so tired of being tired” – the pain in his voice is agonisingly clear as he speaks these words.
For the most part, the album continues as it begins. There are no ‘filler’ tracks on ‘Circles’ and the listening experience remains highly enjoyable throughout the vast majority of the album (the quality only really dips when Miller ventures too far into traditional rap or sings with an inflection). While ‘Circles’ focuses heavily on Mac Miller’s own life and thoughts, perhaps the best track on this album is ‘Everybody’ – where Miller momentarily takes the focus off his own life, like in the lyric: “Saw a blind man standing on the corner / And he could hardly tie his shoes/….But….he sure could play the blues”. It’s moments like these that widen the album’s outlook, disrupt the heaviness and sombreness and, briefly takes listeners out of the world unto itself that is ‘Circles’.
Ultimately, ‘Circles’ is a really special album. But, it’s not just an album, it’s a world to get lost into. ‘Circles’ offers listeners a heart-breaking insight into the chaotic mind of an artist bursting with potential. ‘Circles’ simultaneously leaves listeners wanting more, while also offering as good a send-off as Miller could realistically hope for.