So Many “Faces,” So Many Albums: Only One Mac Miller

Mac Miller recently turned twenty-two. Remarkably, Miller has released two studio albums, two EPs, eleven mixtapes, twenty-nine music videos, and more in just a few years. Faces is his first release in 2014, and while Miller continues to mature with his production and his lyrics, there’s still a curve he’s sliding along. It’s as if his audience is being taken every step of the way, and each release is a new draft, but not quite the final product.

Faces thematically isn’t anything new from Mac Miller. The Pittsburgh rapper who’s been signed to Rostrum Records since 2011 is crowing about making music and money, indulging in drugs, alcohol, and women. But this time around, he comes off as more reluctant — even disenchanted — about these redundant themes. Miller realizes this openly, speculating in the song “New Faces”: “It’s me dizzy from the ups and downs…it’s supposed to get me high, why the *** do I wanna die now?” There’s a despondency written all over the mixtape, and it lasts long. For nearly ninety minutes, Miller broods almost hopelessly, despite finding room to discuss his successes as an artist. The mood drowns in mellow production with lo-fi value that makes this really feel like a tape. The tape never builds momentum, and while it has its charm in the beginning, it quickly wears thin and is easy to get lost in the aimless density of the twenty-four tracks. There’s no true focus, making for disjointed guest appearances by the likes of Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt and Rick Ross. The jazzy “Friends” and the downtempo, brass-sample heavy “Angel Dust” gave a promising start, but the rest of the tape doesn’t execute as efficiently.

This might be the problem with Miller’s ambition: there’s plenty to dive into, but finding quality tracks to latch onto consistently doesn’t add up fairly in proportion. While there are tracks to latch onto here, this endeavor is mostly monotonous and is forgettable, which is disappointing, because the good Mac Miller tracks are really good. This is worth a listen, but now expectations are even higher for Miller’s upcoming studio album Pink Slime. Due later this year, the collaboration with Pharrell Williams might be what Miller needs to exploit and better exhibit his niche. Otherwise, Faces is just another raw endeavor that we’ve heard before, with a few hints of promise that he’ll escalate to the next level.

 

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