The album is a collection of ten incredible songs that are the culmination of 2 years of songwriting and recording, inspired by Sim's love of horror films and his own life experience, and tackles themes of shame, fear and masculinity.
He lets loose on Sensitive Child, an interesting piece in which grainy drums, piano and rough guitars uncover a narrative that seems to reflect his younger self and younger thoughts. Never Here and Unreliable Narrator speak of being present (or absent), and the beautiful ballad Saccharine contributes to the careful and enigmatic unfolding of the album and its story. GMT is one of the album's great moments, a perfect songwriting exercise that poetically provides a beautiful reflection on ‘the moment’ and the love for a town, reminiscent of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
But the best song on the album is undoubtedly Hideous. With the help of his lifelong hero and ‘guardian angel’ Jimmy Somerville on guest vocals, the single sets the scene for the forthcoming album and sees Sim speak publicly for the first time about living with HIV since the age of 17. It launches with a video made by another personal hero, French director Yann Gonzalez, who has also collaborated with Sim on an upcoming queer horror short film of the same name that premiered as part of Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival and is released this week on Mubi.
Hideous is undoubtedly a brave song in both its artistic and personal nature, but there is something beyond its great skills as a performer. The way he tackles HIV in a song in 2022 not only feels right in this way but is a testament to contemporary storytelling done with love and hope. The strength of this song makes you stop whatever you are doing, and listen intently to his voice recounting something that is still socially difficult to tell in such a reassuring way.
Every little detail of the musical production is immaculate, this is a journey between musical genres that takes us into his individual style. He becomes a modern crooner who plays with horror imagery to portray his own experiences safely and exquisitely with a unique sound, a great sense of humour and a hopeful approach to life. Hideous Bastard is not only one of the best albums of the year and an impressive debut but also a cultural piece for us queer and gay men to relate to and see our world grow with songs that speak to our intellects and spirits. It is exhilarating to listen to an artist with such a buoyant and artistic universe. Because, as he puts it, “everything is stupid and there to be enjoyed.”