It’s hard to speak ill of teenage heartthrob Steve Lacy. Best-known as the guitarist of GRAMMY-nominated neo-soul group The Internet, the 18-year-old oozes the careless cool that most artists his age only pretend to have.
Factor in his knack for production and capable singing voice, and it’s no wonder that Steve is the latest member of The Internet to seek solo success—bandmates Syd and Matt Martians released their own debut albums this earlier this year (Fin and The Drum Chord Theory, respectively).
With three solo acts, The Internet has effectively become a fully-fledged supergroup, and even with the talent surrounding him, we wouldn’t be surprised if Steve becomes the breakout star.
At six tracks long, Steve Lacy’s Demo certainly looks like an EP, but Steve prefers the term “song series” instead:
Lacy compares the collection to infamous thriller show Black Mirror, wherein each episode introduces an entirely new cast and plot, but I’m not sure the connection lands; Demo’s six tracks are cohesive in both their smooth, sultry sound and their theme of young love. In my opinion, Steve’s Drake-esque effort to eschew the traditional term “EP” is needless, but maybe it’s just “too progressive for [my] brain.”
Regardless of what you call it, Demo is a lovely introduction to Steve Lacy, and his natural charisma isn’t muffled by a single feature.
Let’s get into it.
Three Standout Tracks:
The earworm “Ryd” is almost too perfectly summery and seductive to have been penned by an 18-year-old. As Steve croons “I’m trying to get you in my backseat / Girl, I want you to ride with me / Baby, ride on me,” I can already see the scene it soundtracks: a perky young woman with a bright smile sits in the passenger seat of a retro convertible and lets her hair blow in the wind, probably in slow-motion, intercut with her silhouetted figure bouncing in the car’s back bench after dark.
Like the other songs in the series, “Ryd” is only a couple of short, passionate minutes, so for all its sexy build-up, some might find it leads to an anticlimactic finish—you know what, I’m starting to see where the whole “eighteen-year-old boy” thing comes in.
Most of the time, Steve’s soft vocals are only the accouterment to his instrumental melodies, but on “Dark Red," his moody lyrics take centrestage.
The dark red of blood is the first interpretation to come to mind (“something bad is bound to happen to me / [...] might leave my nose running”), but the hot crimson feeling of jealousy is really the cornerstone of the track (“only I belong with you baby”). Anyone who’s ever been burned by the flame of teenage love will find poignancy in Steve’s words.
After hearing “Dark Red,” it’s clear that Steve is destined to be a great songwriter.
Fittingly, as the first solo single Steve released, “Some” is also the most revealing of his person and style.
The adorable promposal music video helped Steve charm his way into our hearts, and on Demo, a quick hidden track slips in shortly after the outro, where Steve’s crisp guitar and falsetto add an extra dose of delight to the already lovable groove.
Demo is fun, youthful and intimate, and is sure to convert any Internet lover into a budding Steve Lacy fanboy. However, with a total length under 14 minutes (no song cracks the 3-minute mark), the six-song series isn’t the formidable foundation I’d hoped for. A good start, definitely, but we’ll need to hear a lot more from Steve before he steps out of The Internet’s tall shadow.
I'll admit it: Steve Lacy’s Demo really isn’t an EP. But it’s certainly not because of any overarching similarities with Black Mirror. Instead, its brevity precludes it from being labeled a complete project—it feels more unfinished than succinct. Like... a demo.
At the very least, Demo will leave listeners clamoring for more Steve Lacy, and that’s the real purpose of any debut. So we’ll chalk this up as a victory and leave it at that.
That said, the next release better be a full album. After all, Steve, you only get one try at round two.
By Kareem, who thinks 14 minutes is actually PRETTY IMPRESSIVE, OKAY? Slide into his DMs on Twitter.