Earlier this month, Mac Miller’s family announced that a new project, called “Circles”, would be released on Jan. 17. The rapper was well into completing the project, his sixth album, at the time of his September 2018 death. Producer Jon Brion, who Miller had previously worked with, helped the family to finish the album.

According to Miller’s mother, Karen Meyers, ‘Circles” serves as a companion to Miller’s previous album, “Swimming”.

“Two different styles complementing each other, completing a circle—Swimming in Circles was the concept,” she wrote.

The news of the release was accompanied by a single from the album, titled, “Good News.” The song is emotionally-charged, balancing the beauty of its light, strummy beat with Mac’s dark thoughts. The single set the tone for the rest of the album, released soon after. Circles illustrates Miller’s struggle with his demons, but also elaborates on his potential to move past them. The tracks feel thoughtful and intimate while successfully encapsulating the “Swimming in Circles” concept. The titular track “Circles,” is similar to “Good News,” with Miller softly rapping and singing over a subdued, wavy bass. While this slow, soft theme is echoed on other tracks, it is balanced by bold and upbeat tracks, such as the funk-inspired “Complicated.” Interspersed together, the songs move from one to the next with sharp, shocking stylistic transitions while their underlying message remains constant.

Though it is a posthumous release, “Circles” sounds incredibly complete, a fitting capstone to the artist’s life and career. It is difficult to hear an album that is so optimistic when the ultimate end is already known. Miller’s music remains idealistic to its final note. There is no gloomy idea that is not balanced by one that is equally or more motivated to continue on. Listeners are left with an album that is both a tragic reminder of a death that occurred far too soon and an emphatic celebration of the life an aspirational, talented artist. 

Every week in the New Music Corner column, the Villanovan Culture Section writers will introduce exciting new music and artists to look out for. We cover all genre types, so check back here every week for new recommendations to stay ahead of the trends and on top of your playlist game.