It’s September and I’m in denial (aren’t we all?). So my ears are still ringing thinking of a hot summer song. First heard sometime in July when played by friends and Uber drivers, Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit” captivated my attention even more once I learned it’s featured on an album cleverly-named Gemini Rights.
If the beat behind this playful mixed genre hit isn’t enough to make you tap your toes, the ever-catchy earworm chorus on “Bad Habit” is too good to miss. Plus the bright guitar riffs are upbeat enough to make you forget this is very much a break-up album.
Lacy’s pitch is pleading as he teeters between regret “I wish I knew, I wish I knew you wanted me” and resigned acceptance:
I bite my tongue, it's a bad habit Kinda mad that I didn't take a stab at it Thought you were too good for me, my dear Never gave me time of day, my dear It's okay, things happen for Reasons that I think are sure, yeah
And wouldn’t ya know it’s another song about not saying what you want to say when you want to say it. Whoops! Truly surprised to hear a Gemini would ever bite their tongue (I know from experience, or lack thereof), the lyrics here grapple with missed romantic opportunities and could-be connections.
I love the way Lacy changes pitch between synths when begging: “Please say to me (Please, just say to me)/ If you still wanna/ I wish you wouldn’t play with me.”
And like a true gemini, he shows us two personalities. One passive and one aggressive. The tone shifts in the next verse as he flips the script:
Uh, can I bite your tongue like my bad habit? Would you mind if I tried to make a pass at it? No, you're not too good for me, my dear Funny you come back to me, my dear It's okay, things happen for Reasons that I can't ignore, yeah
Now on the offense, the speaker is ready to bite their lover’s tongue – metaphorically and sexually. As suspected, this gemini is too headstrong to keep quiet.
The ways in which Lacy uses his voice as an instrument in and of itself is impressive. It cracks here and there, with an a cappella break after 2 minutes and 15 seconds in that almost stretches the genre from alternative R&B to a familiar, whiny emo/pop-punk pitch:
You always knew the way to wow me Fuck around, get tongue-tied, and I turn it on, I make it rowdy Then carry on, but I'm not hidin'
Lacy, no stranger to TikTok, invites this Gen-Z energy in his musical range and melodies.
More sweet guitar strums take us through the last minute of the song as he reminds us “You can’t surprise a Gemini/But you know it’s biscuits, it’s gravy, babe.” It’s all fun and games at the end of this jam, with just enough hints of melancholy that led us here.
He ends with a renewed sense of confidence, “You’ll miss me, don’t beg me, babe,” which leaves us ready to devour the rest of the album by this unforgettable gem.