Darren Hayes first album in over a decade, Homosexual, sets to re-write the gay-shaming trajectory of his life by reclaiming his homosexual identity with pride. Hayes laces the fourteen-track record with upbeat pop melodies and synthesisers right out of the eighties, to tell a heartbreakingly honest account of his past struggles with his sexuality, self-identity and homophobia.
It is known that during Hayes’ well-celebrated Savage Garden years and beginning of his solo career he was forced to hide his true sexuality by music execs, even being made to re-shoot his debut solo single Insatiable, back in 2002 for fear of being too ‘gay’. Fast forward to 2022, and Hayes is taking back control of his music on Homosexual, with him impressively producing, composing, arranging and playing every instrument on the record.
Hayes draws inspiration from 80s icons such as George Michael, Madonna and Prince to create a nostalgic album featuring fun pop and disco elements. This can be especially seen on the Prince-inspired track Music Video, which features a classic Prince-style guitar solo and varispeed vocals. Hayes even references popular eighties song titles throughout the track such as Billie Jean and Love is a Battlefield, really helping to successfully evoke the eighties.
To begin with, Hayes opens the album in a light-hearted place with Let’s Try Being In Love, full of 80s synths and falsettos, before moving into darker territory throughout the record. On Hey Matt, Hayes lives out his dark suicidal fantasy, matched by his much deeper vocals, and touches upon his childhood trauma on Nocturnal Animal over pop riffs. What keeps the listeners engaged is Hayes’ unique style of contrasting his sad tales of despair with cool eighties-sounding grooves that could be played in clubs.
A highlight of the album is Hayes’ special tribute on All You Pretty Things for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Throughout the track Hayes can be heard repeating ‘Dance to remember them’ as a way to celebrate and honour the lives of the lost. Hayes then cleverly turns the second half of the track into an 80s dance beat which could be mistaken for a Patrick Cowley and Sylvester collab. The song helps to create a safe space for individuals to dance and celebrate club culture, a fitting way to honour those that have passed in such a positive way.
Hayes has really gone above and beyond for his first album in over a decade, from creating the record all by himself to covering his past trauma with his most authentic, genuine lyrics. Hayes avoids any downbeat, sad melodies and puts his efforts into creating a modern dance album which celebrates the eighties and his sexuality. However, it is a sad realisation learning about what Hayes has gone through his life because of his sexuality, especially when Homosexual comes at a time when LGBTQ+ artists are now celebrated for their queerness, such as Lil Nas X and and Sam Smith. Hopefully Homosexual has allowed Hayes to find peace with his past, which he truly deserves.