Bad Habit

Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy once called his commitment to DIY songwriting and production “the bare maximum.” The phrase—and the TED Talk it appeared in—championed humble tools like the jailbroken iPhone on which he recorded his 2017 solo debut as assets rather than limitations. If he could land a spot in the Internet’s lineup, score Grammy nominations, and book recording sessions with Solange and Ezra Koenig just from fiddling around in GarageBand—all as a teenager—why would he depend on professional studios and equipment to create? The motivational pitch struck a chord with aspiring musicians, but Lacy’s solo work had its limits.

Although his snippets, demos, and beat loops impressively melded rock, funk, and R&B into rich blends, the songs rarely amounted to more than appetizers. Lacy’s best and fullest works (Ravyn Lenae’s Crush EP, the Internet’s Hive Mind) tended to be collaborative, his cowriters and bandmates fleshing out his sprawling ideas. His second album, Gemini Rights, affirms the value of collaborators to the guitarist and producer’s process. These songs are engorged and confident, powered by deft performances and focused storytelling rather than raw talent.

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