Monday, May 12, 2014

Mac Miller - Faces Review [Track-by-Track]

Mac Miller has released his next musical project this past Mother's Day, entitled Faces. It's a 24 tracks and an hour 27 minute long mixtape. So, in the essence of the point of most mixtapes, that being a simple collection of songs, I figured I'd do a quick review of each. Here's Mac Miller's Faces

1. Inside Outside

Great opener. The backing trumpets set the tone for this lovable mixtape devoted to his mother. This is a short little snippet and it already sets the tone for the sound. Really chill vibe, nice to let the beat ride out till the end. 

2. Here We Go

Based on the title alone I can deduce that this implies the actual start of the album, maybe topic-wise, as Inside Outside worked more as an introduction. Another 90's era chill vibe, J Dilla-influenced beat. Lots of nice lines here, calling out those who doubted him. "They wasn't hearing me until I fuck with a brain-feeder" references Flying Lotus' label and his association with him and the 'backpackers' not accepting Mac before that. The squealing disjointed, pitch-shifted trumpet throughout is a nice touch to the claps underneath.

3. Friends (Ft. Schoolboy Q)

The longest track on the mixtape starts with a slow drawl. Mac's rapping is typical so far as to his flow patterns however, on here, the beat, while having various details formulating the filled expanse, is plodding. Making a lot of name-checks here, probably implied from the title. The chorus, which has Schoolboy Q squawking annoyingly throughout, derails what began as a good song, simply repeating "Miller Mac" over and over, which quickly irritating. Regardless, the verses keep the song afloat and add to the humorous vibe of the track.

4. Angel Dust

The mandatory smoker anthem on the track. It has a low, gritty vibe despite the beat being rather vibrant. Based on the chorus it seems like Mac is talking from the perspective of him on Angel Dust (PCP). There's a strange blippy noise projecting through the chorus that adds to this goofy, trippy feeling, as one would imagine while drugged out. For your average drug rap it has a rather inventive feel that keeps things interesting, especially the final minute, which adds some Jazz elements to create a hazy vibe forecasting over the track. 

5. Malibu

Wobbly synth waving its way throughout. It's a nice sound but seems to dominate the entire production, thus resorting into a synth and bass, despite there being other sounds echoing inwards. The dropped chorus, losing all instruments for Mac's spoken word segment, is a nice touch that switches things up. The second verse also enhances the noticeability of the other instruments as things come and go seemingly each bar. 

6. What Do You Do (Ft. Sir Michael Rocks)

Another woozy synth to lead off the track with Sir Michael Rocks of The Cool Kids kicking things off in a back-and-forth verse style with Mac. Another nice beat, the production throughout so far has been very consistent with a lot of depth of small additions that breath a whole new life into the soundscape. There's a nice beat switch at the end that leads into a skit that crosses between this song and the next.

7. It Just Doesn't Matter

Interesting skit to start things off for over a minute, with a man screaming about how things, no matter how good or bad, don't matter. This track also continues the one heavy synth dominating the track, this time however, a low-toned male voice hymns throughout, coming in once every fourth bar that adds a nice ambience. 

8. Therapy

Track about a girl as Mac wonders what she thinks of him and his crazy lifestyle, filled with drugs, partying and alcohol. However, despite the title implicating the opposite, the song actually has a positive sound to accompany Mac's rapping. A huge bass knock complements blaring trumpets during the verses and trap snares during the chorus. There's a hilarious skit closing things with kids talking rather aggressively with vulgar language. 

9. Polo Jeans (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt)

Fast flow, upbeat beat. This is another 'joke' song for Mac, where he says incredibly offensive and horrible things just for the sake of it. Much of his previous mixtape Delusional Thomas had lyrics similar to these. Earl Sweatshirt comes in for a usual quality Earl verse, with intricate wordplay to mix with a clear message of fans and people alike using and abusing his fame. There's an interesting part at the conclusion where it's very clear Ab-Soul, with his noted ab-lib "Solo" comes in, only for the song to immediately end. 

10. Happy Birthday

The title pretty much explains the entire point of this song, a birthday song for Mac by Mac. The beat is nothing spectacular and is instead probably one of the most bland on the album so far, with nothing of particular to note. So with a simple premise, message, and beat this track will unfortunately get overlooked by all the other tracks here. 

11. Wedding

After an opening skit taken from Charles Bukowski, Mac begins to rap gushing over a girl and why he loves her so much as he reminisces over the past. However, the track turns dark as we find out the girl has left him with Miller still feeling for her, even saying he's addicted to her. Calling yourself the worst isn't necessarily the best way to get her back, Mac. The production is simple, with claps and a altered, high-pitched piano melody, both carrying the sound throughout. 

12. Funeral

The previous three have followed a theme, this one being the conclusion. It's a nice track, with a decent message, but, like Happy Birthday, it'll probably be forgettable. Mac's slower songs on Watching Movies were much more enticing and memorable, this one just seems uninspired, despite the fact that he apparently thinks it's the last day of his life. Another simple beat with nothing to say, no specific sound to leave its mark. 

13. Diablo

A simple off-form piano lays the foundation for the beat as a baseline plays opposite to the subtle sounds. The verses are rather confused and all over the place, but the chorus brings the message together nicely, as Mac reminisces over his lost 'homies,' as a somber trumpet attempts to blare but only squeaks in the background to add a nice touch to the disheartening message. The messages of these middle songs have begun to lose their focus in comparisons to the earlier tracks.

14. Ave Maria

An interesting sound, kinda sounds like an modernized RZA beat. It has multiple layers, synths, guitars, and hi-hats. There's a sample of kids hollering barely being heard that I wish were more prominent. However, this is yet another track the message seems to be lost. The chorus seems to imply that, no matter how difficult things get, you should "keep swimming" as "the merry goes round." There's a final beat switch for a short Mac verse that adds a flavorful element to the track as it began to dwindle.

15. 55

A short instrumental in similar vein to Earl's 523 off Doris. It has a nice sound, I can probably be safe in assuming that Mac did the instrumental for it and just wanted to show it off. Nothing amazing, wouldn't expect it to be, but enjoyable none-the-less.

16. San Francisco

Great beat overall, with spacey additions, something that's been noticably lacking on this mixtape despite being showcased on Watching Movies. A lot of quick beat switches, drop outs, and plop ins. The topical content is pretty useless adage, much like most of Mac’s joking songs. The chorus is pretty hilarious though. There’s also a lot of different instruments incorporating themselves at random points, from loopy synths to twinkling airy effects. Overall a pretty entertaining song, worth keeping.

17. Colors & Shapes

A slow-moving, slowly paced song with Mac singing, of which he is very hit or miss when it comes to accomplishing successfully. Here however it’s probably the best so far on this tape, equal to some of Watching Movies’ singing segments. The beat is open and allows for Mac to flex his expressions in a creative space. He has a lot of interesting lyrics here and it would have been nicer if he incorporated them in other songs. The song deals with suicide saying “If I jump let me fall.” The instrumental last minute only further emphasis this depressive state.

18. Insomniak (Ft. Rick Ross)

Huge banger. Giant baseline in the background, reminiscent of Drake's Worst Behavior. Soul breakdown in the middle a nice change of pace. His insomnia is, if it wasn't obvious, the topic of this track. The haunting beat, with a womanly chant in the background, lends nicely to his perceived state at 4 in the morning. Surprise appearance by Rick Ross, typical verse, typical braggadocios. However he does bring some energy and grit to the record, much like a subdued Nicki Minaj.

19. Uber (Ft. Mike Jones)

Similar beat to Suplexes Inside Of Complexes & Duplexes. More 'random' Mac, something I appreciate in small doses, not as much as he's doing here. Seems to be more hater-anthems, rejecting those who constantly try to put him down. I'm beyond sick of this type of rap so can't say I'm a fan of this track. Unique beat though. Woah, random ass feature from Mike Jones. I like this, haven't heard Jones' slick, southern slang in quite some time.

20. Rain (Ft. Vince Staples)

Chill beat with a chill vibe and a simplistic, forgettable verse from Vince Staples to lead off. He works much better on darker beats, like Hive. Really average track, nothing memorable or intriguing. Chorus doesn't help the cause. This is certainly filler material.

21. Apparition

Starting the record in reverse is a nice addition, implies of interesting things to come. Nice deep, complex beat with lots of layers, has an echoey vibe. Sounds like a wanna-be FlyLo beat. More useless lyrics, he does make them sound interesting however, despite him using an abundance of words only to say nothing. Nice change of pace with the instrumental fading out to completion for the final minute, removing certain chords and sounds as time begins to slow to a crawl.

22.  Thumbalina

Very strange, enjoyable beat. The voice alteration they did to the beat is incredible really. Switch up once Mac starts rapping, keeps the instrumental, drops the voice backing, probably for the better. The song has no structure, at all. It seems to be going all over the place, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Actually feeling this track a lot, especially the intricate instrumental, it's certainly unorthodox.

23. New Faces V2 (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt & Retch)

Earl shows up again, these two have great chemistry. This beat isn't typical Mac, sounds like a mash a Chance The Rapper beat with the high-pitched organs, only with a deep bass in the background. As with most of Mac's lyrics I don't really know what he's talking about, if he's even talking about anything. This Retch guy, never heard of him, is pretty dope. Doesn't really fit the beat though, to uppity for his grimy voice.

24. Grand Finale

Yet another track with an interesting beat, Mac is really trying to expand his reach, whether he hits or misses isn't what he's worried about. A distorted guitar riff is beaming through the production. As with some other songs here the production is actually very intricate, with random samples thrown in underneath just for a second or two. Being the closer, many of the lyrics and sounds are inspiring and positive, a piano coming in only heightens this. It's a good closer to a relatively good mixtape, especially considering it's length.

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