Monday, November 23, 2020

Albums of The Year # 33 Perfume Genius - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately


There's an inhaled breath at the beginning of the latest Perfumed Genius album Set My Heart on Fire Immediately which is telling and affecting, though not hugely surprising. You know where you are with this particular artist. Mike Hadreas, (because it is he), has form in this respect. It's immediately clear what you're getting but you might as well enjoy this hugely narcissicistic form of expression and dive in anyway.

We're in the realms of melodrama and experienced pain of the most gorgeous, melodic but deeply felt sort. File it next to Rufus Wainwright, John Grant, Anthony & The Johnsons and Ezra Furman in your record collection if you don't order these things alphabetically. File it next to Lou Reed, who was the king daddy of this kind of musical expression. This is a very American kind of yearning. Of being beaten up in the locker halls for perceived difference by confused jocks and going back home and not seeking revenge in a violent form but instead in interiority and artistic expression.

This is an extremely rich and layered product. We all know at this point of time that things are getting complicated in terms of human expression, so the arrival of this record is both timely and welcome. It's familiarity doesn't lessen its value or impact. Hadreas has been here before, but now he seems keen to iron out the creases he might have been known for previously for commercial impact and consumprtion. Drawing on similar classical impulses as the contemporaries and equivalents mentioned in the previous paragraph but making sure this is a deeply personal statement at the same time.

I'm only on my second play of the record but already it seems like the most extravagant and gorgeous indulgence. Of course this is a sexual statement. That factor is blatantly clear from the most immediate contact with its textures, but this is not a forbidding or exclusive album in any respect. In fact it's one of the most inviting and immediate albums I've heard this year. It also sounds hugely commercial to me. It's just a shame that it's being released at a point where the general public can't go into record shops and exchange currency for rich, expressive product in the manner we're so used to. Never mind, there are other ways to consume, or at least divulge. This is incredibly good. It repeats on former glories but adds new and unexpected layers to that rich experience.

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