Perfume Genius’ new album is a melodically expansive but sombre journey
26.05.2020

Perfume Genius’ new album is a melodically expansive but sombre journey

Words by Scott Hudson

We dive deep into the expansive new Perfume Genius record.

Half of my whole life is gone” is the opening lyric of Perfume Genius’ much-anticipated new album, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. The sombre line ignites a project which stands as a reflective collection of past experiences. The opener, ‘Whole Life’, begins as an ethereal monologue of lyrics before keys flutter and bring along with them, strings and the ever-underutilised glockenspiel.

Elements of art pop, folktronica and alternative rock are scattered across the tracklist diversifying the textures in which he describes his feelings of melancholy, passion or both. “Jason undressed me” opens ‘Jason’. Despite the blunt and erotic statement, the song is bedded with a haunting instrumental as the falsetto tells the story of a one night stand with a straight man, who, although willing, is reluctant and regretful of the act: “When we woke up/He asked me to leave“.

‘Nothing at All’ blends its bass-heavy atmospheric verses with an ever-intensifying chorus: “I got what you want babe/I got what you need son“, while ‘Your Body Changes Everything’ utilises an ‘80s synth and drum pad as he describes the throes of passion. ‘Moonbend’ is ethereal and ominous, relying on an atmospheric instrumental as vocals enter with hums between prolonged lyrics, leaving your brain massaged by an ASMR-like experience.

Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is an excellent collection of storytelling and expression. Perfume Genius offers up his toolkit, utilising lo-fi sounds to hold the focus on his lyricism only to quickly switch to electric guitar, strings or synth. A sonic environment is built advising the listener what to feel and then Perfume Genius enters to explain why, with anecdotes wrapped in poetry. There are tracks for lovers of palatable pop, but there are certainly deeper elements to uncover across multiple listens, from lyricism to his vast and choice, instrumental diversity. Nice work, Hadreas.

8.5

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