Rating: 8/10

“Circles,” the new album by Mac Miller, was released just over a year after his passing, on Jan. 17, 2020. The album is his sixth, and is the production that Mac Miller was working on before his unfortunate passing. Production was completed after his passing by Jon Brion, a well-known singer, composer, and producer. The release of a new Mac Miller album was unexpected from his fans around the world, but they gladly accepted its release with open arms. This album is a great addition of music and creations to remember Mac Miller by. Miller’s music was always remembered by how well it reflected his personality and mood. “Circles” represents a new style; a mix of electro synth and smooth melodic atmosphere.

This album is a departure from his normal style, providing a mellow atmospheric sound that leaves room for the listener to think while listening. Most notably, the song “Good News” embraces this feeling, a song composed of the soft plucking of a guitar accompanied with a gentle synth. While most of the album follows this style, some tracks can be more upbeat than others. The track “I Can See” displays its synth in a much louder and prouder manner, but only in a few sections of the song. The rest of the song has a smooth bass and percussion line paired with ambient sounds, even with a stunning and soothing harmony track recorded by Ariana Grande to complete the song. 

While it is a new style for his music, people who have been fans of Mac Miller for a while are used to a change in style pretty much every album. In the cases of his previous albums, it felt as if the change was too forced and jarring, considering how often they style changed, however, the words “forced” and “jarring” don’t fit this album at all. This change is very refreshing, his vocal style and patterns blend with the ambient vibe almost perfectly. “Good News” and “I Can See” are some of the best examples of that on this album, with the latter of the two being our favorite songs on the entire album. 

Other notable songs include “Circles,” the very song that inspired the creation of the album, “Woods,” an insightful song with a catchy and mellifluous beat, “Surf,” a pastel acoustic track with added electronic riffs for some extra flavor, and “Once a Day,” a wonderful track that uses small guitars and atmospheric synths to shine light on Mac’s talent and voice. 

Other songs on the album still have the overall mood the ambient sound provides, but brings a louder and more upbeat feeling to it. Most notably, the song “Blue World” shows this up-tempo side of the album with a smooth vocal flow paired with rhythmic and snappy synth loops. Other songs like this include “Complicated,” a song with peppy electro sounds, “Everybody,” a vocal-driven track with ominous harmonies, “Hand Me Downs,”a proud sounding song with a spacey theme, “That’s On Me,” a guitar piece with proud guitar and powerful vocals, and “Hands,” a song with sample loops and jingles. 

While most of the songs on this album are really catchy and linger in the brain, some fall short. The song “Everybody,” leaves more to be desired, with a lackluster instrumental despite the enticing vocals. “Hands” has potential, but focuses on the repetition of a single line, leaving the song near the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, “That’s on Me” also falls into the same repetitive circle that “Hands” does. 

Despite these low points, however, the overall album is fantastic. The new style really fits his vocal style, and it creates a wonderful harmony. This truly displays the dream he had when creating the concept of the album, and it has me circling back around to listen to it again every time I finish it.

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