Let me begin this post by saying I have been a HUGE Darren Hayes fan since "I Want You". I loved everything he did as a part of Savage Garden, and went on to love a lot of what he did as a solo artist too. 'Spin' was a fantastic pop record, 'The Tension and the Spark' showed me a darker shade of Darren, 'This Delicate Thing We've Made' gave us so much, and 'Secret Codes and Battleships' was a welcome return to brilliantly produced mainstream pop that I felt should have brought Darren more success.
I really craved a comeback for Darren, whatever genre he chose to come back with, and when I heard it was happening, I was elated!
When 'Let's Try Being In Love' was released initially I thought it was practically perfect, especially combined with the visually aesthetic and very compelling video. On repeated listens it started to grate on me slightly, and with each single released subsequently, my expectations diminished for the album. Put it this way, I listened to the Charlie Puth record before I listened to this today.
In some ways, this record reminds me of the audio equivalent of 'And Just Like That'. It feels overly-woke, box-ticking and as if it's drowning in issues (to my ears). There's very little joy in it. Songs like "Feels Like It's Over" and "Music Video" I find almost impossible to get through on first listen. I understand this album is called 'Homosexual' and so I should expect the content to be centred around that concept, but I can't help but feel Darren has in recent years made his personality all about his sexuality. I suppose it's a case of letting it all out after years of suppression, but I have to admit I preferred the sonic outcome of suppression!
His voice to me is one of the finest in pop music, but the melodies and the constant higher pitch is exhausting to me. The production feels quite primitive, and I don't know if producing it entirely alone was a creative choice or a financial one, or a personal challenge, but for me it was the wrong one. Sometimes artists don't need to have all the control. I LOVE a cohesive record, but for a lot of this 1 hour and 25 minutes I was huffing and blowing and think "is this one nearly over?"
I'm disappointed, and exhausted, and it's not even 12pm. I will revisit it at some point, but it's not an album I'm excited to share with friends the way I would have been with his previous releases. I'm sure for him it was a labour of love, and I'm happy for him, but for me it was a labour to listen all the way through.