Mike Hadreas' best work to date
Grace Almond
17:54 15th May 2020

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It’s been three years since Perfume Genius’ (Mike Hadreas) brilliant fourth studio album No Shape. Three years in which Perfume Genius’ sound has evolved into something even more confident. Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is an amalgamation of different genres and musical forms, leading with themes of gender, masculinity and love - and it's magnificent.

Opening track ‘Whole Life’ is instantly recognisable. It follows many of the distinctive themes Perfume Genius uses - especially in No Shape - but opens up the album to something beautiful, flowing into ‘Describe’, a track with focus on vocals and some quietly present folk themes.

Flitting between musical styles, ‘Without You’ is upbeat, acoustic pop, and ‘Jason’ slows things down with delicate vocals, nostalgia and baroque pop. Moving into the mid-section of the record, there’s the stunning ‘On the Floor’; a happy, bouncy cut with nods to the 80s and shimmering vocals. 

The fabulously eerie ‘Moonbend’ - a song that clearly belongs in an A24 film - provides a clean break in the album, blending fragments of synths, guitar and gentle vocals. Whilst the opening track felt familiar, most of this album is new and different, signalling a step-change in Mike Hadreas’ music.

Mellow, slowed-down ‘Nothing At All’ feels like an evolution from earlier No Shape track ‘Slip Away’ with more intensity and enunciated vocals and less emphasis on instrumentals. Moving into the final minutes of the record, there are some truly thoughtful moments, with the album finding almost angelic tones on ‘Some Dream’, finishing with the cosmic ‘Borrowed Light’.

Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is bold. Combining this many musical ideas could have easily fallen apart and seemed confusing, but Perfume Genius avoided this with creative brilliance. And, when an album gets Pino Palladino, Jim Keltner, Matt Chamberlin and Rob Moose involved, it’s bound to be good. This might be Hadreas’ best album yet. It’s brave, with new ideas and emotions. A beautiful blend of poetry, melodies and lyrics that subvert modern masculinity, it’s an album for our times.

Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is out now.

Issue Two of the Gigwise Print magazine is on sale now! Buy it here.

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