Perfume Genius sets our hearts on fire with his new album

Perfume Genius
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas) has just released his sixth album and its arguably his best work yet.

Perfume Genius first caught our a decade ago with his hauntingly beautiful track Gay Angels from his debut album Learning. Two years later he gave us another offering of subtle and intimate tracks with Put Your Back N 2 It. Then a transformation happened with 2014’s Too Bright his music got loud, fierce and powerful, no more so than on the declarative anthem Queen. 2017’s No Shape continued this journey with Hadreas releasing music that was challenging, inventive and uniquely his own.

This new album sees Hadreas and his team of collaborators tie together the best of both sides of his previous output. New album Set My Heart on Fire Immediately retains all the toughness of his more recent records while introducing lush strings, melodies and an undeniable playfulness.

Opening up with Whole Life Hadreas observes that “half my life is already gone” tapping into the universal fear of ageing and running out of time. Describe which was the album’s first single is full of reverb and beautiful distortion and half way through the song comes an unexpected twist as everything goes quiet and morphs into an ambient soundscape. On Without You the tone in positively chipper, while Jason is pack with an orchestral punch of swelling strings.

Leave sounds like a lullaby with harps and whispering voices, while On The Floor is an upbeat pop sing-a-long with a thumping bass line. Across 13 tracks the mood changes dramatically but there is a unifying sound of multi-layered and complex chamber pop.

By the time they reach album number six many artists have begun to tread water, or turned stale or given in to desperate gimmicks to stay relevant. Perfume Genius sounds as if he’s only just getting started and presented his most interesting and cohesive work yet.    

Graeme Watson


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