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Mk.gee sets his soul on fire on velvety debut Two Star & The Dream Police

"Two Star & The Dream Police"

Release date: 09 February 2024
Mk Gee Two Star and The Dream Police cover
16 February 2024, 11:00 Written by Max Gayler

Music is supposed to make you feel something, and there’s nobody doing that better than Mk.gee on his long-awaited debut.

After leaving his signature DIY production all over records from pop, indie, and R&B's most innovative records for the last few years, Mk.gee brought his signature sound home. Overtly personal, dripping in reverb and sonically barebones, Michael Gordon wrote new blueprints for musical architecture, building immersive soundscapes that duck and weave through whatever walls listeners have put up to penetrate our most halcyon vulnerabilities.

Following a series of head-turning E.Ps from 2018 to 2020, he added the Mk.gee effect to Dijon’s 2021 debut, Absolutely as well as Omar Apollo’s 2020 mixtape Apolonio, turning the former into an industry-stirring record that got the attention of the biggest names in music. This led to writing with The Kid Laroi and being sampled on Drake’s song “Fair Trade” featuring Travis Scott off 2021’s Certified Loverboy.

Despite the temptation, Two Star & The Dream Police is a featureless effort. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes, these 12 songs carry the weight of an artistry so well studied and expertly executed. Formless and dizzying, Mk.gee’s orchestration is purposefully hard to follow. That warm but sharp guitar tone is used as lyrically as his words to faintly tell stories of distress, triumph, and euphoria. Pounding toms, distant horns, and twinkling synths add to the dreamscape as you go deeper into the record, hearing 80s sounding ballads turn into drunken jams that turn up, play out, and walk on by.

It’s hard to make out what he’s saying most of the time, layering his voice under the minimalist groove on songs like “How Many Miles” or the fat drums on “DNM” that sound like a mix between Prince’s M1 and Meg White’s Ludwig snare. But that’s the point. Songs melt together and are mixed in such a way that you could blink and miss their most tender moments. There’s a certain shyness to the music that adds duality to the record where those who make the effort to really listen in are rewarded with something so affirming and relatable.

“Tell me what you’re dreaming about,” he asks on “I Want”, one of the few moments his vocals come through clearly, and it hits you like a train. Lyrically, Mk.gee has held onto those hard-to-describe feelings, the ones words don’t do justice to and dressed them up as songs to mainline. It’s almost jovial and sadistic in moments, but that’s the sound a debut is supposed to have.

The sonic departure from A Museum Of Contradiction’s lo-fi aesthetic has allowed breathing room for Mk.gee’s vocal tone to become the focal point of the music. Clearly a talented multi-instrumentalist as is proven throughout the record, his hesitancy to sing at his best has disappeared on Two Star & The Dream Police. Yes, there are still plenty of guitar solos and piano motifs but this album is filled with vocally-driven melodies that reveal an artist that’s ready for people to fall for them.

The sound both devoted and fringe Mk.gee fans have been craving to explore after years of teasing has manifested as a compelling debut that succeeds in revealing more about the artist. Structureless, vindicating and yet jarring in moments, Two Star & The Dream Police is the sound of Mk.gee taking ownership of the musical world he’s been building for years.

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