Self-love over self-hatred.
From the depressive, emotional instability of "Learning" to pure pop grandeur, "Set My Heart on Fire Immediately" plays out as not just another great Perfume Genius record, it's also an inspiring work of beauty. A continuation of growth for Mike Hadreas, a man gradually learning and overcoming the barriers of his identity and sexuality. Layered in confidence and elegance, the flower, alas, finds itself some more space to bloom in the confinements of the harsh environment it'd been planted under.
The evolution of Perfume Genius from debut to 'No Shape' and 'Set My Heart On Fire Immediately' plays out like a rather fascinating, stimulating success story. Each new album representing a new chapter in the works, each new chapter sees our character reaching greater heights and unravelling something new. Musically and lyrically, we see Mike Hadreas obtaining this form of growth. With each new project, he finds more ease at expressing his insecurities through songwriting and revels in more ambitious, eclectic elements of pop and other styles in the music of Perfume Genius. Through the years, Mike still faces the same personal struggles of Crohn's disease, homosexuality and domestic abuse. The environment in which he's found himself under hasn't really changed, the change comes from within. Every album served as a stepping stone for this, and it is here where we find Mike Hadreas reach a new climactic height in the form of fervent, pastoral vocals, intensely rich production and deep-rooted introspective examination.
'Set My Heart on Fire Immediately' certainly lives up to its title as we embrace for what is perhaps Perfume Genius' most impassioned set of songs to date, despite its more lethargic vocal approach. The performances are extravagant, full of fluidity in the same way that defined his alluring dance performances in last year's 'The Sun Still Burns Here'. It's a new sound on a new album, an intriguing push into perhaps a bit of psychedelia. But Mike remains akin to some of his previous works, embracing them and transforming these new set of songs into poised compositions. Adding to the flavour are little hints of influencers. One, in particular, Roy Orbison, whose dense song structures and moody emotional ballads are embellished on the record's stunning opener, 'Whole Life'.
For every moment, album by album, we've watched Mike Hadreas exhibit growth artistically and personally. What had been a mere sapling emerged into a fierce, towering sequoia, yet the journey does not stop here. Through all this, Perfume Genius loses not a drop of essence. The Mike Hadreas we love from this record is the same Mike Hadreas that conceived 'Learning' and 'Put Your Back N 2 It', only matured and recognized. The transition from 'No Shape' to 'Set My Heart' may not have been immaculate, but there is no denying the mystifying beauty and raw emotion to be found in these splendid, wonderful songs.
I've noticed this has been mentioned, but I feel this should be reiterated. Fans of Perfume Genius and casual listeners alike who are fascinated, if you haven't already, I highly suggest to go take a look at his interview with New Yorker. It's quite an interesting read: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/perfume-genius-wants-to-make-you-feel-less-lonely
FAV TRACKS: Whole Life, Describe, Jason, On The Floor, Your Body Changes Everything, Just A Touch, Nothing At All, Some Dream
LEAST FAV TRACK: Moonbend