In “Helmet,” Steve Lacy wavers on how to break up with a persistent lover.
Stream: “Helmet” – Steve Lacy
Dichotomous but singular, carefree but earnest, Steve Lacy thrives in a world of juxtaposing duality.
Maybe it’s the Gemini in him? “Helmet” and its accompanying Aus Taylor-directed video lean heavily on the paradoxical nature of breakups. Both allow Lacy to explore the ways we contradict ourselves and our partners, such as wanting to split but fearing loneliness, being clingy but also negligent, feeling the days drag by while also noticing how quickly the seasons change.
A little over a year ago, Steve Lacy released his second solo album, Gemini Rights. The record follows Lacy as he chronicles the process of breaking up with his partner; starting with the time period leading up to calling things off and ending once he feels emotionally ready to try again. While heartbreak is the central driving force of the album, recurring themes of duality and dichotomy are sprinkled in every song. The focus on duality shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as the record’s title mentions Lacy’s astrological sign of Gemini, which is often associated with doubles.
As the second track on the album, “Helmet” hones in on a crucial point in Lacy’s relationship. Having lamented about his and his partner’s differences in the previous song, “Static,” Steve devotes “Helmet” to trying to cut things off with his partner. This is the first track in which Lacy starts digging into the clashing mindsets of himself and his partner. He insinuates that his partner wants a different version of him while also pushing back in the pre-chorus when he sings, “All that I can be is me and all me.” Although he tried to stand his ground, Lacy also “tried to play pretend” to fit the mold his partner made. The effort of changing himself for someone else wore down on him, and it ended up widening the rift in their relationship.
The at times two-faced nature of “Helmet” is also present in the tone of the song. The instrumentation of the track is deceptively upbeat, driving Lacy and the listener quickly to the end of the song (and relationship). Meanwhile lyrics create a darker tone, with Lacy repeatedly pleading to his partner to end things. The music video for “Helmet,” which was released July 25th, continues the vein of the lyrical mood.
The video chronicles the passage of time right after the relationship ended, following Lacy around his bedroom; as it progresses, viewers can see Lacy slowly spiraling deeper and deeper into a post-breakup depression. In this depressed state, Steve does not feel ready to brace the real world yet, which is why he remains in his room for the whole video. He goes through the same motions of waking up, changing clothes, and sleeping. After a while, the days start blending together, as is seen in the rapid montage of him repeatedly falling into his bed while his surroundings get messier and messier.
The upbeat rhythm of the music pushes Lacy along, giving the illusion that there is little downtime, yet the slow-changing visuals of the video meet to provide a more sober reality; reminding everyone that while a breakup may feel like time has stopped, life keeps moving. This reality matches the darker mood of the lyrics, exposing a world void of sugarcoated euphemisms. Anyone who has gone through a breakup before knows that it can be hard, even if you’re the one who decided to end things.
The realization that you are on your own now can be scary. Steve Lacy is all too aware of these feelings, and he uses this track to share with his audience how he dealt with the whole breakup process.
Stream: “Helmet” – Steve Lacy
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