AOTY 2020

Apollo XXI

Steve Lacy - Apollo XXI
Critic Score
Based on 17 reviews
2019 Ratings: #436 / 758
User Score
Based on 422 ratings
2019 Ratings: #706
Liked by 1 person
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CRITIC REVIEWS

90
Exclaim!

An intoxicating mix of celestial soul, sprightly funk and glossy, luxurious rock'n'roll, Apollo XXI is a self-assured and sonically robust exploration of love, lust and identity politics.

85
Earmilk

Overall, considering the effortless transitions, range of sound production, and important topics discussed through his lyrics, Apollo XXI is a musical project that positively surpasses several expectations many had for Steve Lacy's first major album.

80
The Guardian

This casual approach is what perhaps stops this album short of being an all-time classic, but it’s also what makes it such a joy. Lacy is a man wise enough to leave rough edges on his perfectly rounded talent.

80
NME

On his likeable debut album, the Internet member and prolific collaborator balances wistful musical throwbacks with authentic lyricism and attitude.

80
Clash

While it’s perhaps not as artless as his earlier releases, nor was it recorded on an iPhone, it retains much of their charm, and builds upon it.

80
Highsnobiety

Even if this record is a little rough around the edges, it feels like the starting point of something very special and has enough sparky originality to ring off all through your summer.

80
AllMusic

Apollo XXI, his first album, is a little more refined, advancing his lazing, heartfelt mix of soul and funk with minimal varnish and no evident fuss.

80
DIY

His first record with his name above the door, ‘Apollo XXI’ makes for the ideal CV.

76
HipHopDX

Lacy’s solo effort is filled to the brim with ideas even when it sometime sounds as if he’s creatively a little too all over the place. Thankfully, even when he fails, listeners should be fascinated by even those attempts.

75
Spectrum Culture

Despite Lacy’s frequent collaborations outside of his solo work, Apollo XXI is mostly a solitary affair, a chance for him to take the spotlight and figure his shit out.

70
Crack Magazine

It would be a powerful debut for any young musician, but for someone as hyped as Lacy, it’s a bullseye that hints at many moments of magic to come.

69
Pitchfork

The singer and guitarist’s debut solo album offers an introspective blend of R&B, hip-hop, & lo-fi pop but feels reluctant to claim the spotlight.

60
Loud and Quiet

It all makes ‘Apollo XXI’ an intriguing statement, albeit a flawed one: as a scrapbook of a record, and glimpse into Lacy’s voracious musical appetite, it’s fascinating.

60
The Observer

On this sprawling, often horizontal record, Lacy’s default setting is a blissful Los Angeles funk that bleeds easily into punchier hip-hop passages.

30
The Needle Drop

Steve Lacy still sounds as if he's in demo mode on Apollo XXI.

PipePanic
69
2019 is the year of the soul-funk apparently.

Talk about no expectations. I had no idea what I was getting myself into on this record. Steve Lacy is a name i’ve heard a lot and nothing about. All I know is that he was a collaborator on the latest Vampire Weekend album, he’s the guitarist in the band The Internet, and that this is his debut project. That’s it. But, Sunflower was one of my favorite tracks off of FOTB, and curiosity got the better of me, and decided to listen to ... read more
LepardRyan
45
Overall pretty boring but I wanted to add that “Like Me” is a fantastic song and probably ends up on my top songs of the year list
usedtobe
81
The Internet guitarist and singer-songwriter's debut is consistently compelling, funky chunkful of jams laced in romanticism, personal musings and introspection. Its music styling, signature funk sound and engaging interludes makes up for a very satisfying listen. My ears are glued on you, Steve.
WhatTheFunk
36
Two years after his promising demos, the guitarist of The Internet releases a first album uninhibited and quite inconsistent. Steve Lacy refuses to yield to the majors of the music industry. He releases his music freely and refines his own style. "Apollo XXI" sounds like a home-made album, intimate and uninhibited, in its themes as in its production which still lo-fi. The young prodigy is surrounded by drum machines, Californian synths and guitars with their characteristic sound. But ... read more
KnifeTrick
60
With Steve Lacy's new album, I just don't feel that he has a certain type of direction he wants for it. It does have the distinctive theme of electric guitar with mellow vocals, but the direction is quite lost for me here. Thanks to most of the instrumentals done on the record, it kept me from boring myself throughout this.

I feel like 'Like Me' could have had a better direction in production. It's interesting to hear the discursive idea of wondering if anyone else does the same over quite a ... read more
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Track List

  1. Only If
  2. Like me (feat. DAISY)
  3. Playground
  4. Basement Jack
  5. Guide
  6. Lay Me down
  7. Hate CD
  8. In Lust We Trust
  9. Love 2 Fast
  10. Amandla's Interlude
  11. N Side
  12. Outro Freestyle/4ever
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Added on: May 15, 2019