March 28, 2023

After the death of acclaimed rapper Mac Miller on Sept. 7, 2018, fans and critics alike assumed that was the end of Miller’s musical library. 

In early January, however, Miller’s family posted on his Instagram account announcing that songs Miller had recorded but never released prior to his death would be available to the public Jan. 17 in a project known as “Circles.”

The post explained that “Circles” was meant to be an accompanying album to Miller’s last album “Swimming,” which was released in 2018. 

The post also emphasized how this was not an easy decision but the family ultimately decided that Miller would have wanted these songs to be heard by his fans all around the world.

The album opens with the title song “Circles,” which starts the album on a sad and contemplative note. Other songs such as “Everybody,” “Surf,” and “Once a Day” are reflective and carry similarly heavy tones and lyrics.

However, there are a few songs, such as “Blue World,” “Good News” and “Complicated,” that are more upbeat but still mellow, similar to much of Miller’s previous album, “Swimming,” the companion to “Circles.”

“Circles” may at first sound familiar to fans of the prior release, “Swimming,” yet there are several elements to the album that help distinguish it clearly from the previous album.

While “Swimming” was an album that many felt signaled Miller discovering his most authentic expression of his music, “Circles” is the perfect accompaniment to its predecessor. 

Although this album is much more melancholy in nature than any previous album in Miller’s collection, this does not detract in any way from the impact of the songs. In fact, it adds even more depth to the connection listeners have with the writing and arrangements.

If there is any weakness or blind spot in “Circles,” it can only be explained as that the album’s release does not feel the same as Miller’s past albums. 

Listening to it, one may feel that something is missing. This can mainly be attributed to the reality that this is the first album release in which Miller was not present.

This fact in itself is not enough to take away from the album though,  and while composer Jon Brion took over production, much of the focus remains  on Miller’s vocals.

“Circles” is unquestionably a beautiful and heartfelt album, and an incredible tribute to the artist’s legacy that will cause listeners to sincerely reflect on the legacy of Mac Miller.

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