Mike Hadreas' fifth album grapples with the juxtapositions of queer love.
Perfume Genius albums are aqueous and dynamic, like ocean storms bookended by fleeting, blissful moments of peace.
Mike Hadreas' fifth album under the moniker, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, is a gut-wrenching image of queer desire. With his constantly shapeshifting breed of avant-garde indie, the sound of Perfume Genius is soaring and sweeping. While his last record, 2017's No Shape, felt meticulous and precise, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately rattles as if you're hearing it from the mezzanine of an orchestra hall.
Perfume Genius - "Describe" (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
Musically, Hadreas doesn't constrict himself. The album's lead single, "Describe," is driven by a crackling guitar chug reminiscent of '90s lo-fi rock. The twangy "Without You" is peppered with gentle piano chords, while the grandiose harpsichord of "Jason" calls to mind the Sistine Chapel. Across 50 minutes, Set My Heart is exhilaratingly unhinged, as Hadreas channels his emotional turmoil into grand, illustrious compositions. Thematically much darker and denser than its predecessor, this album isn't any less rewarding.
Musically, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately knows no bounds; its lyrics are similarly unguarded, matching the urgency of the album's title. "Jason" depicts Hadreas' one-night stand with a straight man. Here, we feel Hadreas assume the form of a commodity for his partner's exploration. Emotionless and bleak, he turns this soul-crushing moment of guilt and sees its humor in retrospect: "I stole twenty from his blue jeans / I'm pretty sure that he saw me," he croons in the song's outro.
Shame is a repeated theme throughout Set My Heart: Over the buoyant groove of "On the Floor," Hadreas ruminates on the agonizing solitude of experiencing an unrequited crush. "Take this wildness away," he repeats, a plea that mirrors his conflicting emotions of genuine desire and the queer guilt imposed on him. He wrote "Touch Me Deep" with a wartime couple in mind, imagining the song as an offering to a partner who's going away. The song mimics the intimacy of a secret relationship, one that can't be professed publicly.
Still, Set My Heart comes with moments of catharsis and revelation. "Your Body Changes Everything" challenges binary gender norms in physical relationships, dismantling the stereotypes associated with sex and instead using it as an opportunity to explore new freedoms. "Nothing at All" mimics the passion of being so infatuated with someone that their negative actions have no effect on your feelings for them. The song dances between the ultimatums of caring about everything and caring about nothing. On either end of that spectrum, there is liberation.
Perfume Genius - "On The Floor" (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
As with all good things Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately is thought-provoking and full of possibilities. As much as Hadreas comes to terms with his own insecurities in an ongoing battle with himself, Set My Heart feels like a long-awaited release. All-encompassing and symphonic, Perfume Genius continues to be a purveyor of high stakes—and he pulls them off with an enchanting grace.
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There's an entire genre of YouTube videos that consists of nothing but news bloopers, and they're equal parts hilarious and panic-inducing.
"Right after the break, we're going to interview Erik Weihenmayer, who climbed the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, but he's gay—I mean, he's gay, excuse me, he's blind."
Back in the early 2000's a young news anchor in New Mexico had a slip of the tongue on live TV that has enterred the annals of news blooper history.
Gay Mount Everest www.youtube.com
Cynthia Izaguirre had just gotten done reporting on a separate story discussing activism for gay rights, and was setting up a segment with the first blind man to climb Mount Everest, and her thoughts got twisted on the way to her mouth, resulting in a 14-second clip that would live on in infamy.
Here's what to listen to this weekend.
If you're anything like us, you're probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of albums being released on a weekly basis.
We're here to make your music discovery a little bit easier. Popdust's weekly Indie Roundup finds the five best albums coming out each week so that you don't have to. Every Friday, we'll tell you what's worth listening to that might not already be on your radar.