top of page



AudioLust & HigherLove (PMR/Virgin)

SAMUEL LEWIS’ DEBUT ALBUM, Times, arrived in the depths of Covid, at a time when dancing with yourself wasn’t just a Billy Idol song from the past but a possible/probable universal future. And yet we danced. And danced. Alone, sure, but feeling connected and sometimes euphoric.

As much fun as Times was, Lewis couldn’t nail trickier emotions than joy and joy-lifting-sadness-because-it’s-joy, but it wasn’t a fatal flaw; and while he was still working out how to elide subtleties after the club eased towards the night ride home, there was enough in his dancefloor to make the pleasures irresistible whether you were around the first time these ‘70s and ‘80s club moves surfaced, or you heard them more recently, when your well-pissed parents or (heavens!) grandparents tricked up the living room after you’d gone to bed.

There were a couple of questions hanging over him heading into this record. Would he ease his way out of the retro dance zone for something more obviously contemporary? And if he stayed in the zone, could he not only repeat the highlights but better them, while finding a way to broaden the emotional range?

A new album still intent on making feet and hips move before the brain has twigged to what’s going on is a clear answer to Question 1. While the ‘80s might shade the ‘70s for influence (Call On Me, with Tove Lo, takes us into a post-Blitz Club/pre-Stock Aitken & Waterman night), the territory remains disco in its many manifestations: straightforward beats under rising tides of pleasure; guitars lightly chopping against basslines acting as de-facto leaders; strings dressed in black tie but their jackets shucked; backing vocals creamy.

Fever Dreamer, where Charlotte Day Wilson and Channel Tres do yin and yang to Lewis’ measured centre, doesn’t rush itself but the momentum is inexorable and as light as the synth burbling away. The Flight Facilities-like Something About Your Love puts some pride in your flared strides, turning even geriatrics into hands linked/rolling shoulder/eyes closed mini Travoltas. And Missing You imagines that Lewis found the Giorgio Moroder song that inspired New Order’s True Faith.

Question 2 is not so obviously answered, particularly when Honest and Epiphany are in different ways quite ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying. However, in songs like Lifetime, with its moon-hearted glow slightly ambiguous, the uncertain terrain of Holding On (a song where the Steely Dan-like intentions of its guitar solo shake things up some more) and the wistful glide of Vibe Like This (this time with Ty Dolla $ign and Lucky Daye), there’s much more convincing happening.

But if you’re not in the mood, you can just take up the easy bliss of Another Life (piano pushing underneath the foursquare beat; Lewis holding back vocally so the quiet strings can play at the corners of your hearing) or the contrasting colours of Plain Sailing, that starts out like Christopher Cross and then drops its shoulders into some Kylie, circa Impossible Princess, territory.

Best of all, you don’t have to dance alone now if you don’t want to, but it’s very easy to enjoy this solo.


bottom of page