Album Cover for Circles by Mac Miller
As a person who complains, I often complain that I really don’t complain. I tend to stay in one place; I’ve remained at the same two jobs for 99% of my adult life. I haven’t moved from my mediocre apartment to something better (preferably where I can have a dog). I’m worried that such stagnancy will affect who I am, inevitably turning me into a person who never changes. I don’t want to be an NPC. That being said, I’m glad I’ve evaded the addictive personality of my mother’s side of the family; I could have easily become an alcoholic by now, and I imagine I can strike a good chainsmoker pose.
This week’s record, “Circles,” the posthumous final record by Mac Miller, is the perfect swan song to Miller’s voice and the pain he was trying to convey. Despite the album distancing itself from Miller’s traditional rap structure, the production from Jon Brion and the soulfulness of Miller’s lyrics yearns for a tone of tired acceptance. This is a record of mental health, of happiness, of mortality, of remaining stuck at rock bottom but still, somehow, feeling light on your face. “Circles” hurts more knowing the context of Miller’s passing, though I can’t help but hear him singing gently right next to me.
As a record in conjunction with Miller’s 2018 effort, “Swimming,” the theme of swimming in circles embodies the final years of Miller’s career. To start the year with an album so painfully transparent, it’s difficult to not hear “Circles” as both a plea and a dismissal, a lackadaisical joy that reverberates with the bright tones of Brion’s R&B production. “Circles” is purposeful in that way, though; there’s no other way to approach the topics of Miller’s addiction, untimely death, and depression without creating an atmosphere that Miller would have wanted.
I want to say there is peace hidden between the cracks of everyday life. I want to say there is joy in repetition. There are days where we live so out-of-body that it perpetuates the majority of our waking lives. Going to sleep feels like a return back to our vessels. I want to believe we are always fighting for our lives just by having a heart that beats. I want to believe Mac Miller is saying we’ll be alright. I want to believe we are. I want to.