Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 14 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 0 out of 14
Buy On
  1. 100
    Through the album there’s a mesmerising rhythm, a kind of rocking horse motion that spurs you on to the next track. ... On Swimming he was adrift, searching for a lighthouse beam that would bring him back to “a place of comfort”. On Circles, it sounds as though – if only for the briefest of moments – he found it.
  2. Jan 21, 2020
    90
    Where Circles succeeds, where it becomes a graceful and elegant piece of art rather than an experimental excursion, is in finding the perfect subject matter for its laidback meanderings. Quite simply, these songs are dispatches from a day in the life of Mac Miller.
  3. Jan 21, 2020
    90
    His gruff vocals hold pain and weariness as he reflects on his struggles and challenges. Yet, however difficult it might be to ingest his candour, there is also a maturity about Miller in which to take solace. There's a sense of growth and lessons learned. These are the marks of a life well-lived, however short.
  4. Jan 17, 2020
    88
    What this tight team does is turn “Circles” into an intimate daytime affair — a micro-boogie wonderland — as opposed to the midnight pool party of “Swimming.”
  5. Jan 30, 2020
    85
    Mac’s sixth studio album is a surreal experience that’s filled with opaque contemplation and tragic connotations. ... Loneliness may be our greatest fear other than death. Mac was able to explicitly re-establish this idea through reflective songwriting and gentle crooning. His genius and thoughtfulness will always be remembered. “Circles” is a stark reminder of that.
  6. Feb 3, 2020
    80
    Despite the sadness that clearly surrounds this project there is plenty of positivity: the production of the album is impeccable, and the overwhelming message that shines through is of hope for the future.
  7. Jan 21, 2020
    80
    He finds beauty and peace in allowing himself to experience his own emotions. It’s an honest, matter-of-fact account of the grey areas of his life and mind. On Circles, Mac shows the unexpected joy that can be found in the darkest of times.
  8. Jan 21, 2020
    80
    If Swimming felt contemplative, Circles feels even more like a singer-songwriter album than a hip-hop joint – a tendency most likely amplified by Brion’s treatments.
  9. Q Magazine
    Jan 17, 2020
    80
    Circles showed his music was reaching new heights. [Mar 2020, p.116]
  10. 80
    It’s a high-quality project, but we lost Mac way too soon, and that’s hard to accept. So while it’s hard to listen to him talking about self-deterioration and how he spends far too much time in his own head, it’s a privilege to hear him share his inner most thoughts over a bed of sweeping, inventive sonics. This is the album Mac Miller was born to make.
  11. Jan 17, 2020
    80
    Miller’s lyrics possess a plainness that occasionally yields moments of heart-rending simplicity, but frequently wither into triteness and banality. Yet when his words fail him, his voice is able to communicate the pain more effectively.
  12. Jan 17, 2020
    74
    Swimming hinted at an artist who’d finally cleared his mind and found his footing. Circles provides some resolution and helps finish Miller’s final thoughts.
  13. Jan 17, 2020
    70
    If Miller hadn't passed, Circles would be an insightful, focused addition to his strong late-era catalog, shining a necessary light on emotional and mental health struggles and sobriety through his deeply reflective lyrics and the wonderfully enjoyable and warm production work by Brion. Instead, it's yet another reminder of lost potential and a life cut tragically short.
  14. Jan 17, 2020
    70
    The album doesn’t possess the piercing introspection, precision or revelatory quality of Swimming, but of course, Miller wasn’t there to see it across the finish line. It serves as a fitting coda to his career.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 469 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 62 out of 469
  1. Jan 18, 2020
    10
    Circles is the most beautiful album by Mac Miller. It's a piece of art. The production is so beautiful and mac should be proud in the heaven.
  2. Jan 17, 2020
    10
    Beautiful album & a perfect send off for Mac, Jon Brions production meshes with Mac fantastically.
  3. Jan 17, 2020
    9
    This album was really amazing to me. I was a bit concerned, it being a posthumous album and all. But Jon Brion and the everyone else involvedThis album was really amazing to me. I was a bit concerned, it being a posthumous album and all. But Jon Brion and the everyone else involved did Mac justice. This is equally live, calming; but more eclectic, experimental and almost indie-like than Swimming. The production is absolutely superb and the lyrics change from relatable, inspiring, and heartbreaking from track to track. The production and Mac's soulful performances feel like he delivered them from heaven for his fans one last time.

    At the end of the album it's bittersweet. The idea of 'Swimming', being that as long as you are swimming you can't drown. Now, he's reached a new level of inner peace: no longer is he swimming, barely keeping his head above water as waves come crashing down, but surfing above them. And then he passed. But his music lives on.
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