I have had a considerable admiration for Perfume Genius ever since I first crossed ways with “Queen”, his greatest hit from his previously released album, in 2014, “Too Bright” that at the time already conquered all the music critics. Now, with “No Shape” he just stole all the attentions from other “Releases of the Day” and proved the World not only his musical worth as well as that he is now recomposed from all the troublesome episodes of his 35 years of existence. Four Albums and seven years later after signing with Matador Records, Perfume Genius is now one of the most exciting “one man show” artists out there.
A Seattle resident with Greek ascendence, Mike Hadreas a.k.a Perfume Genius, never had it easy during his life journey. For starters, he was the only openly gay student at his high school at a time where teenagers were still not accepting this reality as much as they do nowadays. So, as you might imagine, bullying was a constant of his life, as he never tried to hide his true personality, which allied with his parents divorce was the most turbulent period of his life. After this, he dropped out High School in his senior year, trying to be left alone with his demons. However two years later he was attacked in his neighbourhood for the same reasons as he was bullied. Other than this? Well after all this one would hope for some peace. However drug and alcohol abuse came as a natural response to the cruel World he lived in where even God punished him giving him “Crohn’s Disease”.
After a couple of years of this “Lost In Translation” times, in 2008 he finally focus on his music career, creates a MySpace account under “Perfume Genius” and starts to get some recognition for his weird music in one of the greatest stages to start-up musical careers, Seattle. Only two years afterwards and he was already working with Matador Records. And in the first day of Summer of 2010 he released his first serious work titled “Learning”. At the time, a major success for a debut album, with Pitchfork reviewing it high with an 8.2/10.
His music has never disappointed so far, always impressing critics around the World and gathering new fans that not only respect and love his music as they do the artist as soon as they find out who he really is. “Too Bright”, his previous album from 2014 got the most attention and the best reviews with Pitchfork saying that “each song was a new treasure to be revealed”. In My Opinion though, one of the things I appreciate the most in his work is the genre he proposes. Obviously tending towards Glam Rock, a sub-genre of Pop-Rock culture where the artists wear outrageous costumes usually associated with David Bowie’s era of “Ziggy’s Stardust” with the thematics of Sexual Freedom and Gender Identity always present. To all this he adds a really personal touch of weirdness that just fits me perfectly. Pop-Rock, with a touch of glitter, champagne and sad ballads is what one can expect from him.
For this fourth album, “No Shape”, I could have not been more surprised. I was not quite sure what to expect from Blake Mills as a producer of this record (worked previously with Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple, John Legend). His art is usually to refine every instrument in a way that it never sounds as you would expect it in terms of intensity with a sound clearness which is really atypical in this genre. In “Otherside” the first song of the album Mike starts just by putting up a ballad that transforms into several different things in the always too short period of 2.40 minutes preparing the entrance of one of the most important landmarks of this album, “Slip Away”, an affirmed Pop-Rock tribute with a chorus that might resonate for some time in your ears after a first listening. And the weirdness reigns over almost every single song out of the thirteen that compose this new album, with the constant transition between the “Beauty and the Beast” philosophy Mike always tries to introduce in his work. One of the greatest examples of this bi-tonal transition is “Wreath” where the contrast between the choir vocals that build up a bridge that appears in the second third of the song and the main chorus sang by Mike alone where he sees “The Sun come down” is of an immense beauty.
He ends this album on a high note, with a strong love statement, that only he could have put together, towards “Alan”. Now he is not only his partner, as music producer and stage colleague and Mike just felt he had some words to say to him. As well, this message might describe not only the album as well as his whole work in the simplest way: