Words About Music
Perfume Genius “Too Bright”
One of my favorite albums of 2012 was an album that took me by surprise mostly due to its poignancy, straightforwardness, and minimalist approach. That album is Perfume Genius’ sophomore full-length “Put Your Back N 2 It.” Perfume Genius is the project of Seattle singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas, whose quivering, passionate voice is usually backed by a solemn piano. This time around, though, he’s bringing in more dense and frightening instrumentation for his third album “Too Bright,” which has been backed by uncharacteristically upbeat singles like “Queen” and “Grid.” The usually downtrodden singer’s music has taken quite a turn on “Too Bright,” with squealing keyboards, finger-snaps, and rattling bass added into the mix. “Too Bright” is Hadreas’ most accessible album yet, but also probably his best and most rewarding.
Short though this album may be, it is stuffed to the brim with convincing emotion. Some of the year’s most passionate performances can be found on this album’s better songs like “My Body” and the title track. What sets this album apart from his others is the noisy, sometimes abrasive instrumentation. At times it feels like I’m listening to an early Xiu Xiu record. The album roars like a lion at the beginning before settling down towards the end, giving it a sense of cohesion based around variance. While you could make the argument that Perfume Genius’ first two albums aren’t varied enough, that can’t quite be said about “Too Bright.”
Now while I did say that this album is more uplifting relative to the other albums in his catalog, “Too Bright” is not something you’ll wanna soundtrack your good mood to. Even the album’s most uplifting moments come with implications that’ll wreak havoc on your emotions. “Too Bright” is a twisted record, but it’s also as beautiful as an album can get. I can’t understate just how much I love Hadreas’ voice and the way he emotes a lot of the album’s lyrics. His piano playing complements his vocals well because his method of emphasizing certain notes (which I’m sure most piano players make use of) really gives the music another layer of passion.
While it’s easy to compare some of the moments on hear to being reminiscent of creepy music acts like The Knife, Xiu Xiu, and Scott Walker, it’s even easier to say that Perfume Genius is one of the decade’s most reliable music projects because the beautiful and the frightening are combined so well. “Too Bright” has its low points, but even then the instrumentation is so dense and admirable that it’s hard to find much to dislike about this album. For 34 minutes it’ll draw you in then spit you right back out. It’s the most well-recorded and most qualitatively perfect Perfume Genius album, and I’ll never stop wanting to hear more.
SCORE – 9.1
FAVORITE TRACKS – I Decline, Queen, Fool, No Good, My Body, Don’t Let Them In, Grid, Too Bright, All Along