Play any song from SG Lewisthe second album of, AudioLust & HigherLove, and you’ll wonder where you’ve heard it before. A Target or TGI Friday? Maybe it was a playlist curated by Spotify called “Good Vibes” or “Happy Beats”. You’ve heard that four-on-the-floor drum pattern with the shimmering synth at least a thousand times, even if you’re not sure exactly where (but probably over a decade daft-punk or Disclosure song). The 28-year-old British producer and songwriter’s wholesome mix of disco and dance music is made for the soundtrack of summer parties and times when one might unironically mutter, “My life is a movie.” . Like the rest of Lewis’ catalog, AudioLust & HigherLove is well executed and a lot of fun, but the question remains: what, if anything, is distinct about his music?
Although he operates in a familiar pastiche, Lewis is more than a great impressionist. He’s produced for Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Elton John, and his solo work feels like a successor to Random access memories, a collage of impeccable disco, house and prog-pop that fuse live and electronic instruments. When debuting in 2021, times, he captured a shimmering, strobe dancefloor ethos, spinning through a cast of glamorous hooks that hinted that tonight just might be them night. It was schmaltzy and airless at times, but Lewis’ slick, immaculate production made up for the lack of conceptual ingenuity. Nevertheless, times often sounded like the work of a producer still in training, adept at Daft Punk and Pharrell reluctant to color too far outside the lines.
AudioLust & HigherLove is taller, brighter and more confident than times, its higher highs and less fanciful lows. The songs are brilliant and anthemic, filled with vivid cinematic detail: chained vocals, live orchestral arrangements, kick drums so powerful they thump through an iPhone speaker. “Infatuation” and “Something About Your Love” showcase Lewis’ talent for crafting emotive, funk-tinged bangers; he’s a wizard at fusing EDM buildups with 80s R&B beats. Both of these songs feature Lewis as lead vocalist, a welcome wrinkle for an artist who previously confessed a lack of confidence in his voice. On some songs, like “Another Life” and “Honest,” it’s obvious he still harbors that confidence; its stark, simple melodies sound like placeholders for a more assured singer. But then there are the choruses on “Oh Laura” and “Missing You,” where he extends his range and lands on a pair of gripping melodies, proving he’s capable of single-handedly anchoring a pop song from the size of an arena.
Lewis’ vocals are one of the few new releases on AudioLust & HigherLove. The rest is airy grooves and shack jams, frictionless and flawless. By the time “Plain Sailing” gets more than halfway through the album, we’re already intimately familiar with the phaser-laden pre-chorus, the syrupy stacked synths, the processed vocals blanketed in a pleasingly dull sheen. Lewis’ writing, which evokes summer breezes and romantic adventures, is as memorable as your fourth drink of the night.
Lewis describes AudioLust & HigherLove like a record concept in two acts: “AudioLust is the darker, lustier, amorous, fleeting, ego-driven version of love,” he explained in a press release. “The second half represents a much deeper, updated and fulfilled version of love.” But these themes – the cornerstone of traditional pop music – are rendered so generically that they have little consequence. Yes, Tove Lo revels in the “drop of sweat[ping] down your bare chest” on the first cut album “Call on Me” and later on “Vibe Like This”, lucky day admits he “never felt a vibe like this / Might be worth it”. The feeling is nice, but the vibe is infinitely replaceable.