As I alluded to in my Louder Than War review of this album, written way back in the long, hot days of late spring, I’ve always felt kind of inadequate for not loving the music of Perfume Genius. I felt as though I was out of step with all the cool cats. But, hey, I get it now. It took me five albums, but I have finally arrived, (un)fashionably late.
Actually, i don’t think my love for Set My Heart on Fire Immediately is associated with tardiness or an earlier lack of hipness. Instead, it’s probably to do with the fact that Mike Hadreas’s early promise has now been completely fulfilled with the creation of his best album to date.
It’s an album of incredible scope and ambition. It is absolutely courageous, from the sheer variety of the songs right through to the themes that Hadreas has written about. The tunes leap from grunge (Describe) through Balearic beat (Without You) to classic pop (On The Floor). And that’s all crammed into the first half. It’s fitting that I write this piece on the day of the winter solstice as, lyrically, these songs belong in the longest of nights. They are dark in places and incredibly personal and, at times, make for a slight element of unease as one listens. This is particularly so in the graphic Jason, which details a fumbled voyage of sexual discovery and ends with our narrator stealing twenty bucks from the eponymous subject of the song.
Whilst the first half of the album is a thrilling joyride, the second half is what elevates it into greatness. As I said the first time I wrote about this album on that sunny afternoon, One More Try sounds like it has fallen out of an episode of Twin Peaks. Moonbend is simply sublime, as Hadreas’s stunning falsetto rides aloft Blake Mills’s fragile keyboard motif.
The finest track on the album follows. Just A Touch is exquisitely beautiful. I don’t think I can describe this incredible work of art any better today than I said in June. “Jim Keltner’s tom toms toll a deathly rhythm, leading in Mills (picking up the four string on this one), who slips in alongside some gorgeous strings. The way in which the musicians merge and interact with Hadreas’s voice and one another is absolutely wonderful and it’s worth buying the album for these three minutes and twenty-eight seconds alone”.
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is an incredible achievement. Genius by name…