From the second it starts, Reading alt-pop star SG Lewis’ debut album is a throwback to the carefree, pre-social media years of flares, mirrorballs and classic disco headiness. You know: when partying was simple and didn’t have to be documented on Instagram. With an impressive guestlist of collaborators to boot, ‘times’ instantly transports you onto a packed, sweaty dancefloor.
Though it’s been a long time in the making (Lewis’ comparatively-chilled three-EP project was released in 2016), now’s the perfect time for the 26-year-old to step out from the producer shadows (he was behind Dua Lipa’s pulsing ‘Hallucinate’, collaborated with Alunageorge and produced Victoria Monét and Khalid’s glistening ‘Experience’) and into the spotlight as a solo artist.
Lewis sets the mood from the off, ‘Time’’s vinyl crackles evoking a worry-free time when “there was harmony in music, there was harmony in the behaviour of people and we had a good time”. Rhye’s warm vocal is a timely plea to make the most of every day; something we can all attest to given the world’s current state.
‘Feed The Fire’, which features New Orleans singer-songwriter Lucky Daye, keeps the party going brilliantly, while maraca-shaking ‘Back To Earth’ is a slice of dance-pop perfection, Disclosure-style synths and a hip-shaking house beat circling around one of Lewis’ many earworm vocal lines.
Increasingly uplifting is Nile Rodgers collaboration ‘One More’, which sees the Chic frontman unleash an effortlessly funky guitar groove as Lewis sings about not wanting the party to end. The feeling carries through vibey singalong ‘Chemicals’ and ecstatic anthem ‘Impact’, which features Robyn and LA vocalist Channel Tres.
Contrastingly, there are occasions when Lewis strips things back, proving he’s not just a good vibes purveyor. The ’80s-infused twinkling-pop swayer ‘Heartbreak On The Dancefloor’ pairs British indie-pop singer Frances’ teary-eyed chorus with Lewis’ percussive drums and emotive guitar playing; you can taste the dry ice pumping out as if it’s being performed on Top of the Pops.
And while ‘All We Have’, a collaboration with Aussie electro-pop duo Lastlings, delivers one last euphoric release, contemplative album closer ‘Fall’ is the record’s biggest surprise. Swapping out synths for a classic rock guitar riff and solemn piano keys, Lewis longingly ponders the future for an ambiguously fitting finale.
Overall, ‘times’ is an incredibly cohesive collection of slide-across-the-kitchen-floor dance-pop bangers that encourage you to hold on to the good times. SG Lewis’ long-awaited debut album is a much-needed beacon of light.
Release date: February 19
Record label: PMR / EMI Records