entertainment

Perfume Genius 'Set My Heart On Fire Immediately' review: 'Queer pain, power and perfection'

"A glorious 50 minutes of queer harmony."

2020-05-18

Words: James Barr

It’s pretty obvious that Perfume Genius is beautiful - Mike Hadreas' new cover art looks like the kind of topless Grindr guy I’d block before they had any chance of blocking me first.

But after listening to his latest record I’m even more floored. I actually have no words to describe the perfection of this record. Confidently I can say it's the most stunning, adoring and artistic album I’ve ever heard.

In Attitude's Sex & Sexuality issue - out now to download and to order globally - Hadreas says he believes "being queer is just an inherently lonely thing", but there’s absolutely nothing lonely about this record.

Set My Heart on Fire Immediately is so rich with ethereal queer alt-rock glam it feels like all of our community’s queer power and pain coming together as one. It’s dystopian too - like both the end and start of the world at the same time, a feeling all too familiar right now.

It features producer credits from heavyweight session musicians behind some of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Keith Richards' biggest songs, and, if I’m honest, I’m running out of adjectives to describe how brilliant it is.

Perfume Genius talks queer shame and sexuality in Attitude's Sex & Sexuality issue, out now.

'Whole Life' opens the record with a symphony of sadness, an anthemic awareness for the past and the pain experienced in coming of age. 'Describe' wrestles a void of depression before transcending into a forest of atmospheric isolation.

'Jason' re-lives the shame of a one-night stand with a straight guy (a mood), whilst 'Just A Touch' tells the story of a secret love between two gay men.

This an intellectual album cascading with emotion and respect for our entire queer journey to acceptance. 'One More Try' is a heartbreaking throwback to a time where gay people weren’t able to love openly because it could have killed them.

I don’t think there’s ever been an album that has had such a profound effect on me. Listening to Perfume Genius’ lyrics brought back both painful and lustful memories of my own failed relationships and friendships. Yet perhaps it’s true power comes through Mike’s ability to bend his vast soundscape to create feelings he can’t describe.

This album could probably do with a lie down on a therapist's couch, and therein lies it’s beauty - couldn’t we all. It’s perfection and imperfection celebrating each other all together at once in a glorious 50 minutes of queer harmony that leaves us with the promise of a peaceful, more self-aware future.

Rating: 5/5

'Set my Heart On Fire Immediately' is out now. Read our interview with Perfume Genius in Attitude's Sex & Sexuality issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: save 45% on the cover price in print, 13 issues for just £19.99 to download to any device.