Single Review: SG Lewis feat. Clairo – Better

By on Wednesday, 11th July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

SG Lewis is not your garden-variety DJ. Probably the best description I’ve read on him is from this i-D article from last year, penned by former Heartbreaks singer Matthew Whitehouse, no less: “bit like if Bon Iver had gone to university in Liverpool and discovered club culture through a night out at Chibuku.” Though he is most famous through high-profile collaborations with soul singer Ray BLK, rapper Dave and decidedly not urban at all singer/songwriter and friend JP Cooper, it should be noted that Lewis is no slouch in the songwriting department. He’s a producer who when given the task of coming up with a tune, he gives as much thought to the nuts and bolts of the songwriting as he does to the production needed to make it a dance floor banger.

Last week, he released new single ‘Better’, which stars the topline lyrics and voice of Clairo, a 19-year old Bostonian YouTube sensation. The two had a chance meeting in Los Angeles to write together and the rest, as they say, is history. The pop song is a true 21st century creation: Lewis was quick to give credit on Facebook to his two cosongwriters, Montreal via Vancouver Juno-winning beat producer Pomo and guitarist Danny McKinnon. The song is pure summer, full of handclaps and the production remarkably simple on purpose, as Lewis explains, “I kept the beat unquantized from the jam as I felt like it gave the record an old disco feel.”

Uncluttered and with this old school feel, your ears naturally focus on Clairo’s vibe-y vocals and the spare backbeat that effortlessly accompanies her. The lyrics are from well trod on, but always welcome pop territory: Clairo sings of unrequited, or at least thwarted love. As I’m sure some of you know, this kind of love can be difficult to accept, especially when you know it can never be, even if all you want is to be close to someone you care about: “I know it isn’t right / you creep into the night / maybe you want a friend / maybe not in this life / why is it so hard, hard to please you / all I wanted was you in the room”. ‘Better’ may not be the flashiest pop entry of 2018, but it’s wonderful proof that songwriting is more important than all the bells and whistles in the world.

8.5/10

‘Better’ by SG Lewis and featuring the vocal talents of Clairo, is out now on PMR / Virgin EMI. Back in April, Lewis released ‘Dusk’, six tracks that represent the first part of a three-part album. Stay tuned for ‘Dark’ and ‘Dawn’ to follow later this year.

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