|Perfume Genius / No Shape|
|Add Date:||2017-05-18|| ||Pull Date:||2017-07-20|| |
|Week Ending:||21 May|
Three years after his breakthrough release Too Bright, Perfume Genius—the musical project of Mike Hadreas—returns with No Shape, his most ambitious and openhearted album yet. No Shape takes the glam-inspired sounds of its predecessor and warps them even further—synths are gauzier and beats are punchier. But it’s not without its quieter moments that let the listener in, exposing them to Hadreas’ inner pain as he grapples with his sexuality, his past as an addict, and his struggle with Crohn’s disease. But tragedy is met with triumph as Hadreas celebrates his long-term relationship with the man he loves. It’s the sound of hard-fought serenity.|
Favorites: 2, 3, 6, 9, 13
1) “Otherside” (2:40) – Plinking piano and vocals for the first minute, exploding into a dazzling burst of synthesizer about a minute into the track. Virtually repeats itself at the halfway mark.
2) “Slip Away” (2:45)* – A strange, metallic-sounding beat underlies vocals for about a minute before the synthesizers kick in. Like the first track, the song’s second half sounds very similar to its first, although it adds some more percussion and gauzier synthesizers. Hadreas sings about breaking free and embracing love.
3) “Just Like Love” (3:16)* – Juicy bassline, skipping percussion, heavenly strings, crunchy electric guitar, choral vocals—it’s all here. An early standout.
4) “Go Ahead” (2:54) – The bass thumps along to a really confusing gait. Lyrically, Hadreas challenges those who want to tear him down. Song doesn’t explode the way the previous three do.
5) “Valley” (3:10) – Gently-strummed acoustic guitar backs Hadreas’ singing. Strings and piano make some gentle intrusions.
6) “Wreath” (4:27)* – Song is often compared to Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” and rightfully so. Piano, guitar, and strings are all mixed in such a way that they don’t sound like themselves, all while Hadreas builds to a vocal climax.
7) “Every Night” (2:48) – A gentle piano number with ethereal vocals and strings. A really beautiful piece, but perhaps a bit slow for radio.
8) “Choir” (2:29) – Frantic violin playing throughout the track. Hadreas sounds like he’s whispering into the microphone, making the lyrics kind of hard to hear.
9) “Die 4 You” (3:33)* – Not apparent from the lyrics, but the song is about erotic asphyxiation. The title makes it look like a Prince song, but it sounds much more like something How to Dress Well would do. Minimalist, weightless, and deeply sensual.
10) “Sides” (4:52) – Featuring Weyes Blood. A really warped, gauzy synthesizer props up the first half of the song while Hadreas sings. Synthesizer falls away when Weyes Blood takes over on the second half. Song’s end comes a bit abruptly.
11) “Braid” (2:58) – A quiet song with Hadreas’s cracking vocals and a distorted piano. Similar to “Every Night”—another pretty piece that might not hold listeners’ attention.
12) “Run Me Through” (4:45) – Song rides a really curdled, jazzy groove on what sounds like an electric piano. Mostly instrumental, with two verses each followed by a minute of just music. Song is slow, but doesn’t drag.
13) “Alan” (2:47)* – Strings and synthesizers sound like they’re coming down from heaven. Hadreas professes his devotion to his boyfriend of eight years: “Did you notice babe / Everything is alright.” Vocals are never more clear than they are on this song.