On the 7th of September 2018, Mac Miller passed away suddenly from a drug overdose. At the time of his death and the release of his assumed final album, he appeared happy, despite the melancholy tone of Swimming. Circles is Mac Miller’s real final album, pairing together with Swimming in concept: Swimming in Circles.
Mac Miller’s sound has constantly evolved throughout his career, drawing on a huge catalogue of influences. On Faces he sampled underground movies and jazz, whilst on The Divine Feminine he took a more laid-back R&B approach, even featuring his then-lover Ariana Grande on a track. Here, however, it seems Mac took a final step in his musical progression, singing for most tracks over minimalistic strings, drums and pianos. Mac was always a talented producer but like on Swimming he is assisted by Jon Brion- in this case, Jon Brion was required for the album to even be completed.
Good News is a haunting single, featuring a chorus where Mac expresses frustration at fairweather friends and ponders the afterlife. I Can See has a shifting, drifting instrumental, with Mac describing the dreamlike nature of life- it’s also worth noting the presence of some subtle backing vocals that many suspect to be Ariana Grande. Everybody is an impressive cover of a song by a contemporary of the Beatles, Arthur Lee, with Mac’s vocals resembling that of John Lennon- in fact, the entire album feels the influence of Lennon, who Mac was a fan of. The album ends almost abruptly with Once A Day, with Mac singing in a melancholy tone over subtle production. The track ends abruptly, leading straight back into the first track- in a circle.
Although Mac Miller’s final album is not his magnum opus, it is nonetheless the perfect end for such a unique and prolific artist.