It’s important that people realise that this isn’t a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis record and that it is in fact a solo Macklemore album. Even though the sound isn’t that drastically different “Gemini” offers a personal voice while still giving you that quirkiness you’ve come to know and love over the years. Let me start off by saying that in no shape or form is “Gemini” a flawless or majorly impactful album. It doesn’t hold the same stamina as “The Heist” or even “The Unruly Mess I’ve Made”. But what it does offer is some strong standalone songs that will see him being able to headline arena’s as a solo artist. Lead single “Glorious” is the perfect introduction to Macklemore as it holds onto the roots of the sound he’s perfected over the years while incorporating a empowering hook. Even though it sounds a little too similar to “Can’t Hold Us” I can’t help but love it. But the album kicks of strong and hard with the self motivation anthem “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight”. The song is a collaboration with Eric Nally who brings the same scratchy vocals that made “Downtown” so instantly recognisable. But the album is up and down from there. “Marmalade”, “Firebreather”, “How To Play The Flute” and “Corner Store” are all lyrically quirky but due to average production and poor structure the songs fail to become memorable. And don’t even get me started on “Levitate” where he questionably try’s to channel Bruno Mars. I’m still unsure as to why it is a thing. “Intentions”, “Miracle”, “Church” and “Excavate” try to make an impact on an emotional level but fail to connect like “Same Love” or “WINGS” did. But he did get it right on the Kesha collaboration “Good Old Days” which is hands down the strongest track on the record. The anthem looks at living life in the moment and reflecting. It’s empowering, euphoric and just super catchy. A future hit. “I wish somebody would have told me, babe. That someday, these will be the good old days. All the love you won’t forget and all these reckless nights you won’t regret”. And another instant favourite is the honest “Over It” which reflects on an on and off again relationship. It has one of the strongest hooks on the record and that doesn’t really come by as a surprise because K.FLAY wrote it. “We got that bad love, but it taste like medicine. I never had love, so I learned to settle quick. I guess I never thought I’d have to choose between paradise and you”.
Macklemore has always been well known for his quirkiness and aside from the empowering lyrics there is a bit of fun on this album. “Willy Wonka” is probably the strangest and the weirdest song in this collection. There is a lot of Willy Wonka references in this hype song that I’m sure would make Roald Dahl roll in his grave. But I mean, the line “I woke up like, Bitch I’m Willy Wonka” is pretty great along with the EDM beat drop. And then on “Zara” he gives you an insight to a shopping experience with his Mrs but also compares these candid moments to how much he loves her. It’s kinda sweet.
The main issue with this record is that it’s too long and very all over the place. It didn’t show consistency or growth as all these songs sounded like previously released Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tracks. There was a growth in his songwriting with a very candid look into his life but the execution just wasn’t there with the average production and melodies. It has it’s big moments of empowering pop-rap but the mediocre tracks out weight the ratio too heavily. The track listing should’ve been refined to have a heavier impact. And why “Good Old Days” wasn’t a lead single still baffles me.