Circles: A Review

The recent release of Mac Miller’s posthumous album 'Circles' has taken the music community by storm, and subsequently given us all a little closure on the tragedy that occurred September of 2018. The original announcement was both heartfelt and sincere coming directly from Mac’s family, explaining that this album was supposed to accompany Swimming, Mac’s 5th studio album released in August 2018. While Circles was still a concept, Mac had been working closely with Jon Brion, a friend, and producer who took what he learned from conversations and interactions with Mac to complete the 6th studio album for Miller. As a fan of Mac for some time now, this news definitely shook both me and the loyal fanbase of Macheads who continue to carry on his legacy. Regardless it is still one of the best ways to start of the new decade and gain more closure knowing that we have a final work of music from Malcom.  

The first single released off of the album shortly after its announcement was Good News. I don’t know what it is with unheard Mac’s songs being released but I swear they always drop with lyrics that speak directly to what's going on in my life, and Good News was no different. With a simple track behind emotional lyrics, the vibe is peaceful and is accompanied by an excellent animation as well, with bits and pieces from Mac’s past.  

“Haven’t seen the sun in a while but I heard that the sky’s still blue” 
-Good News 


Overall, I’m glad that was the single they decided to release first, as it was a good indicator of the mood of the rest of the album. While its bittersweet to listen to it also brings such a sense of peace. Like everything is going to be okay.  

The full album debuted on Friday at midnight, so for us over here on the west coast we got it around 9:30 pm on Thursday. I refrained from listening to it right away as I knew I had to drive over the mountain pass the next day, and I figured that would be the perfect ambiance to experience the album for the first time. Of course, you have to listen to a new album top to bottom, so that’s exactly what we did. A 12 track, 49-minute long piece that had ups and downs, yet still maintained an air of peace. I quite enjoyed the instruments that Brion brought into the mix, with notes from pianos and guitars humming throughout the album. You could tell how personal all of the writing was involved. Miller talks about his inner battles and personal struggles which is hard to hear especially postmortem, yet it’s fascinating how in-depth he as an artist could get with his words while still maintaining musicality and not making it to depressing. A beautiful blend of auditory art and emotion that has been received well by many so far.  

“No, I ain’t God but I’m feeling just like him,  
ooo don’t trip” 
-Blue World 

Three popups at various locations in the US celebrated the album’s release in person and offered a listening experience and merchandise for the new album. Though for those who couldn’t attend, the charts show a massive number of streams already. So far, all the songs from the album are charting in the US Spotify top 30 with over a million streams each, and Circles is the number one album on Apple Music currently. It’s getting the hype it deserves I believe, as it truly is a work of art and it’s not every day you get new music, especially an album, from a beloved artist who has passed away.  

I feel like as a whole, the album is a delight to play all the way through, yet certain tracks definitely caught my attention. Complicated, the second track comes in with sharp notes that create a funky sound, and up the mood of the album after a sobering first track, Circles. Blue World at track three comes in with harmony singing “It’s a blue world without you”, before dropping into another unique beat. After that tracks five and six named I Can See and Everybody come after Good News, and the sentence coming together as Good news, I can see everybody, a comforting phrase in my opinion. Track nine I realized I had actually already heard on Soundcloud about a month before when it was leaked, so it was nice to hear the final version with a classic, swinging beat. Surf comes in at my favorite for the album at this moment in time. A simple guitar strum with Mac’s singing over it brings me peace as he dictates “Until it gets old, there’s water in the flowers lets go”, and then the song slides into an electric beat.  

“Everybody’s gotta live 
And everybody’s gonna die 
Everybody gonna try to have a good, good time” 

Overall, I’m going to have to give this album a 10/10, admitting that I’m biased in saying so 100%. I believe firmly in my rating due to Jon Brion’s ability to capture Mac’s essence so well in a posthumous album, and for Mac to leave us such heartfelt lyrics and bars that are top tier, that deserves respect, no question. A piece of art Circles is, and I hope that we can all appreciate the gift we have been given. Rest in Peace Malcom, thank you.