Perfume Genius is amassing some considerable hype with the recent release of the critically acclaimed Too Bright. On the heels of a triumphant appearance on Letterman, the lead single ‘Queen’ has slowly grown into something of a “gay anthem”.
(No family is safe/when I sashay).
Droning, layered, and confident, the song signals a significant new direction for Mike Hadreas, whose first album, 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It, is a collection of powerful and stripped down piano ballads. Take, for example, the songs ‘All Waters‘ and ‘Hood‘ – both beautifully sparse tracks that leave plenty of space for Hadreas’s vulnerable vocals to bloom – to a point of heartbreaking tension in the former, and into a cathartic crescendo in the latter.
Too Bright is also a collection of pop songs, though beefed up and coloured by an odd array of synths and percussion, courtesy of collaborators Adrian Utley (Portishead) and John Parish (PJ Harvey). Indeed, the darkly anxious synth rhythm on ‘Grid‘ has Portishead written all over it.
In the end, I think Hadreas is most compelling at his barest. Happily, Too Bright is punctuated by a number of slow and confessional ballads, the quality of which are rare in an ever-expanding ocean of mediocre singer-songwriters.