On his vibey debut album ‘times’, SG Lewis was a one-man-disco-machine longing for clubs to reopen. For its follow-up, he’s got a studio band together to build a record that transcends dancefloors and instead shoots for stadium heights. “I wanted to test myself further and see what I was capable of,” he told NME last year.
Calling on his musician friends to perform live keys, bass, and guitar, the London-based artist – who has produced for Dua Lipa and worked with Elton John – made a wise decision. Adding traditional instruments and letting his own vocal take the lead more than before, ‘AudioLust & HigherLove’ is a sonic evolution for Lewis; tracks like the twinkling Daft Punk-ode ‘Something About Your Love’ and hedonistic Tove Lo-assisted banger ‘Call On Me’, whose chorus is perfectly paired with laser-like synths and reverb-drenched production, are made for the larger venues he can now command.
The range of genres and influences is wider than before, too: after the curtain rises on the cinematic ‘Intro’, the whooshing ‘Infatuation’ encompasses rock-leaning guitar riffs and psychedelic flourishes by way of Tame Impala homage. Early on the ambition of album two is clear. That’s not to say Lewis’ winning formula has been forgotten, and the kaleidoscopic synths, disco tinges and singalong dance-pop choruses of his uplifting first record remain, but with extra layers to elevate everything.
While Lewis’ lockdown-landing debut was packed with kitchen disco bangers that nostalgically recalled pre-Covid freedom, but this time around there’s further emotional depth. Rather than separating chapters, though, the lust/love dynamic plays out from track to track – a clever narrative device reflecting the range of emotions that arises from a relationship and its fallout.
The yacht-rock-influenced ‘Lifetime’ was envisioned as a contemporary wedding song. ‘Holding On’, meanwhile, conveys a lustful holiday romance and the blissed-out beachside instrumental ‘Epiphany’ is almost nine minutes of trippy relaxation; bravely testing attention spans, it sounds like an uninhibited jam session.
Despite its upbeat production, break-up ballad ‘Oh Laura’ sees Lewis divert from his usual dance-pop floorfiller sound, stripping things back to crashing drums. Having got things off his chest, that clarity erupts on the 80s-indebted album highlight ‘Missing You’. Then, the uncertainty creeps back in on the unhurried ‘Another Life’, which pairs orchestral strings with acoustic guitar, while ‘Honest’ seeks a fresh start. Album two demonstrates Lewis’ growing confidence as a frontman in the spotlight – long may it continue.
- Release date: January 27, 2023
- Record label: PMR/EMI Records