Album Review | Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights

Paulino Mercenari, Editor-in-Chief

It may come as a surprise to many that Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights is his sophomore album. At only twenty four, Lacy has an outstanding list of accomplishments that sound more like a daydream to some, including: the guitarist for acclaimed alternative R&B band The Internet, and helping to produce and contribute on tracks from the likes of Kendrick Lamar (who he produced “Pride” for off the Pulitzer Prize winning DAMN at only nineteen), Mac Miller, Vampire Weekend, and Denzel Curry. With such a track record in such a short span of time, the immense praise and virtuoso status that Lacy has garnered could turn out to become unwanted weight.


Creating a worthy second album off of the back of an already well received first is no easy task. An artist’s fans may become accustomed to expecting a particular sound or style, and pressure can build on the artist to create a track that brings back the people that loved the first while still being innovative enough in order to appeal to critics. Lacy, however, has shown that the pressure, for better or worse, does not get to him. He is able to capitalize off of blending together a variety of sounds— whether they be R&B, hip-hop, or even rock— while still maintaining a warm lo-fi aesthetic to his tracks. Thanks to Lacy’s unapologetic experimentation across these genres we’ve received many tracks that carry a fresh and previously unheard of sound. Yet, the feeling can’t be shaken that it still doesn’t feel like Lacy has given us his all on this album. Some tracks off the album even sound like filler, with Lacy trying to only space out his hits off the album. For the most part, these hits had already been pre-released as singles anyway, leaving the leftovers on the album sounding rather unimpressive.


This second-full length album is a technical step above his previous work, Apollo XXI, an album full of merits, yet coming off as lethargic, with meandering potential on Lacy’s part at times, with one of the songs off the album even having been recorded on an iphone. Compared to Apollo XXI, Gemini Rights was entirely created inside of a professional studio, with a major difference in production quality being apparent.


It’s the genre-blending versatility of Steve Lacy that is what makes it so hard to describe his work. Tracks such as the part bossa nova part funk explosion part indescribable Mercury combines an appreciation of the seventies era, Brazilian bossa nova’s trumpets and altered harmonies with Lacy’s signature blend of R&B. It all comes together to make a song that sounds entirely ageless and leaves you believing him when he announces he’s “a myth and a legend” right at the very start.


Another standout off of the album is the infectious Bad Habits. Here, Lacy’s energy and talents practically bleed onto the track as not only are the instruments heart-thumpingly heavy but the segments of each track are masterfully paced and carry an entirely different energy and change of rhythm altogether. Part of the song is even in Lacy’s acapella while he continues to brag “You can’t surprise a Gemini”. Lacy’s vocals are beyond catchy as they urge you to sing along to his heartbreaker of a ballad, “I bite my tongue, it’s a bad habit / Kinda mad I didn’t take a stab at it”.


Overall, Lacy’s new album flares with life, warmth, and color at its best (the singles), and leaves you checking for the time at its worst (the filler). Steve Lacy without a doubt exudes talent, he just feels like a bored prodigy at times, simply refusing to give us his best when we’re aching for it.