Set My Heart on Fire Immediately by Perfume Genius [8/10]

What immediately registers with “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately,” the fifth outing of art-pop singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, is the wide, sumptuous sonic palette achieved by producer Blake Mills and a troupe of superstar session musos. Every song, be it dark or light, begs to played loud. Hadreas’s floating tremulous falsetto, which can thicken into semi-menace, is a superb instrument, and on this album it fits in perfectly. Stylistically we get chugging electronica, sweeping strings, chamber pop, cabaret largesse, bouncy pop. Sharp, deep lyrics combine with the musical grandiosity to hark back to the old-fashioned, souped-up drama of the 1960s, a la Richard Harris or Tom Jones, yet “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” also unfurls as subtle and modern. Highlights of the thirteen-song bounty include the opulent, shimmering pop vocals and rich music of “On the Floor”; the eked-out falsetto and Air sound of “Jason”; and Hadreas’s lowered baritone voice urgent amidst the pounding rhythm and string punctuations on “Your Body Changes Everything.” A highlight of this year’s listening.

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