When SG Lewis’s debut album arrived in the thick of lockdown, it served as a blistering, indulgent escape into the depths of disco-pop and dance, temporarily transporting listeners from bedrooms to dancefloors. It demonstrated Lewis’s educated, learned focus and reverence for the ‘70s genres that shaped his sound so prominently. But while the debut comfortably existed in that tight sonic scope of influences, his second full-length effort, AudioLust & HigherLove, almost feels like an inverse reaction to the musical constraints of his debut, pushing and playing with the myriad of new genres added to his instrumental arsenal.
Across both the darker, “lustful” bangers and soaring, euphoric “love”songs that cohabitate the album, a clear sentiment emerges that Lewis is just having so much fun with all of it. Amidst all of the musical experiments, comfort zones, and chaotic range of emotions that AudioLust & HigherLove brings to the table, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the fun as well.
The first half of the double album embodies its mood of lust and desire viscerally, wholly and unapologetically derivative of ‘80s pop with its synth-heavy, percussive arrangement and cheeky songwriting. “Missing You” captures the excitement, the thrill that accompanies the chase, with a euphoric build to a chorus that’s more than suited for a large festival crowd. “Oh Laura” also hits at a similar excitement but from a nostalgic angle, with its grand, synth bass octaves and glitchy keyboard stabs that are just as catchy as the storytelling is bitter.
On the whole, however, Side A encapsulates a certain darkness or murkiness that blends into the background of the brighter instrumentals. Especially on lead singles “Infatuation” or the Tove Lo-assisted “Call On Me”, the depth of sound pulls these tracks beneath the sparkling exterior where some of the emotional uncertainty in the songwriting begins to surface.
“Fever Dreamer” marks the transition to Side B, where the sultry bass-driven groove backed by the incredibly smooth vocals from Charlotte Day Wilson and Channel Tres turn the track into a full-fledged house banger. It also sets the tone for the remainder of the album’s second half and its theme of euphoric love, where Lewis really hits his stride not only in the melodic songwriting, but also in his vocal performances.
Songs like the celebratory “Lifetime”, or the warm, glowing album closer “Honest” oozes with personality and charisma far more than anything else in his catalog thus far, and they do a great job of re-framing SG Lewis as a holistic artist rather than a mere DJ or producer.
However, it seems like Lewis has always and will always find his most solid footing in collaboration. Across the album, his varied circle of guest features produces some of the most exciting and compelling moments on the record, but it’s because of his versatility as a producer that brings out the best of their respective styles. Lucky Daye and Ty Dolla $ign on “Vibe Like This” may be one of the only chances to hear two of R&B’s biggest names on a disco-infused yacht jam, and it also happens to be an absolute killer groove.
As a holistic experience too, AudioLust & HigherLove excels most in its ability to build and maintain a groove, no matter the mood, color, or stylistic focus. It’s what SG Lewis has always excelled at since the very beginning, but it continues to thrive and incorporate other growing components of his artistry beautifully. The album may not be pushing the genres he embraces to any new or unfamiliar heights, but it doesn’t seem concerned with doing so in the first place, especially with how proudly it wears its influences on its sleeve. Rather, it’s best to approach this batch of songs with the expectation that it’ll be a familiar yet quality experience, with enough fun and pure joy to fit any setting, on or off the dancefloor.
AudioLust & HigherLove is out now.
Featured Image Courtesy of PMR/EMI