Monday, February 20, 2012

Perfume Genius

Put Your back N 2 It

Matador Records

Mike Hadreas’ absolutely wonderful new album (Perfume Genius) is tender, hopeful, out and proud. It’s dark in a fragile way, but always some light to cut the dark. Musically this is a bit like Rufus Wainwright, but if Wainwright had never been exposed to opera. It’s also a bit like the Innocence Mission, one of Hadreas’ influences, not so much for their sound, but for what he calls “timelessness.” I think what he means is that you put on an Innocence Mission album, and a hush comes over everything, everything gets quiet. Perfume Genius is the same way, with that same hush, that same quiet, which has a very fragile beauty to it.

Lyrically this is still about all the things Hadres has gone through, but expanded and more outward looking. By opening up his songs to let others in, he enlarges his world, and makes it better. It is more explicitly gay, and it is very nice to hear someone sing about being out with no pretences, just forward-looking honesty, which is also quite bracing. A triumph, musically and lyrically, and for someone who is out, a tonic for the soul. []

Andrea Weiss

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