In the last few weeks there’s been a lot of releases that have gained traction quickly whether it’s Fleet Foxes first single in years, Thundercat’s new LP Drunk, or the recent reissue of Elliot Smith’s masterpiece Either/Or. However, one EP has dropped without much of a noise being made about it and I don’t know why because Steve Lacy’s new demo, simply titled Steve Lacy’s Demo, breaks walls between genres not previously fused to a great extent.
For those that want the short version; Lacy does a perfect impression of a garage rocker doing R&B. Made on home recording tools like an iPhone, Steve Lacy’s Demo relies heavily on organic instrumentation layered over programmed drums. There is a perfect blend of futuristic sounds that reference an older time in the southern Californian music scene where Lacy got his start in Odd Future band, The Internet. Speaking of Odd Future, Lacy’s two chord progressions and aloof lyrics follow in the footsteps of other greats to come out of the collective such as Frank Ocean and even Earl Sweatshirt’s lighter side.
For those that want the longer version, I did a track-by-track review. While there’s only six songs packed into the thirteen-minute EP, Lacy covers a lot of ground. The First track, Looks, is the party track on the album. An upbeat dance track for wallflowers that simply states that “looks ain’t enough”. The beat has a heavy high hat on it that is reminiscent of Motown’s later work and even areas that Sly Stone was exploring in the early 70’s.
Track two, Ryd is possibly the most Odd Future-sounding song on the demo. It’s the best beat on the album with a late snare sprinkled in and a multi tracked vocal part that croons to its audience. In art, there’s a lot of talk about “reinventing the wheel” in different areas and I have to say, Steve Lacy does a successful job of making songs about cruising in cars interesting again.
Track three, and easily my favorite on the album, Dark Red, is the perfect embodiment of the melding of garage rock and R&B that I was talking about a couple paragraph’s earlier. An almost Mac Demarco-esque guitar part that perfectly pairs with Steve’s lyrics “what if she’s fine, it’s my mind that’s wrong, and I just let bad thoughts, linger for far too long”. Simple and poignant, A break up song for those to get down too.
Tracks four and five, Thangs and Haterlovin respectfully, are both relationship songs in the classic sense. Not falling in love, not falling out of love, but in the middle of it all and the turbulence that one goes through when you’re just in love. The two tracks are placed next to each other perfectly to exemplify the bipolar existence romantic relationships can take.
Steve Lacy’s Demo closes with the song Some that brings the listener full circle back to where they started at a perfect dance scene. The thirteen minutes go by so fast but it leaves the listener’s head spinning and hypnotized they don’t even realize that it’s over until two minutes after the last chord is strummed.
All I can say is that I hope Steve Lacy comes out with a full length this year. After Listening to his demo while making dinner last night, I went through the recording three times because it was so short. There needs to be more of this garage R&B out there and maybe I’m just too ignorant to have not taped into it yet but if not, then Lacy has carved out a new niche for himself and other artists to follow his lead.
Click here to see the video for both Ryd and Dark Red.
– By Mike Metcalf