Considering the state of the drag queen music world, most notably when it comes to ex-RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants, Mimi Imfurst’s debut album The Fire comes as a bit of a surprise. The common theme for drag queen musicians is to release electronic pop music, quite often with a comedy twist; Mimi had followed this in the past with her 2013 singles and as a member of Xelle. For her album, she’s taken the rock route instead, and created something that’s largely unexpected; not always quite as successful as one would hope, but still striking in its own way.
The album’s most outright influence is the punk style of the likes of Green Day: There’s a fair sample of songs with raucous punk arrangements to them, such as So What and All There Is To Say, with a decent number of general rock tracks to balance things out, like the album’s title track or the rock ballad Time To Say Goodbye. These all tend to be rather hit and miss, with Mimi’s voice fitting in better on the louder tracks, where her straightforward shouting style of singing fits much better than on the less energetic songs. To her credit, she’s never the factor that breaks a song to pieces, and it’s more a case of some arrangements simply feeling better than the others, with the opening tracks Genocide Peroxide and So What being the best examples of strong punk songs.
Interestingly, the album’s most striking song is also the one that breaks free of the rock style. When I Come Home sits at the end of the album as a lone acoustic ballad, quite at odds with the rest of the album, but also ties the entire package together really well. The simple guitar and vocal arrangement works best for Mimi, and she sounds better than ever before to boot, while also allowing the lyrics to shine at full brightness; the emotional and relatable lyrics are often the strongest part of the album, which makes this chance for them to come into the spotlight even better.
The Fire isn’t exactly a perfect album, but credit is due based solely on the fact that Mimi was willing to take a risk and go into a direction most queens who’ve been on RuPaul’s Drag Race would never consider taking. There are a number of truly enjoyable songs on the album, most notably in its opening and closing moments, and it all tells a story any young queer listeners would be able to relate to. The Fire may not be the best album you’ll hear this year, but that doesn’t make it any less important for both Mimi Imfurst and her fans.