Ever since the release of his debut LP 'Learning' back in 2010, Seattle's Perfume Genius has attracted increasing attention both publicly and critically. His piano led ballads, for which he has become synonymous, lay bare the soul of Mike Hadreas. His penchant for pairing a particularly heartfelt lyric to a moving and evocative score are the work of an artist, if not beyond compare in contemporary music, then at least beyond reproach.
His second album, 'Put Your Back N 2 It' from 2012, quite rightly further cemented the credibility that has been afforded Perfume Genius. With album number three, 'Too Bright', he has gone one step further; he has not only delivered on his signature dishes but also upped the ante with some stunning musical developments.
On 'Too Bright' the genius not only comes from the Michelin starred melancholy but in the sonic exploration of his more challenging and intriguing new tracks. The album is eased in with the a-typical slow brooding ache of 'I Decline' and is still littered with the more familiar sounds for which he has become known. However, 'Too Bright' is also punctuated with some unexpected leftfield gems. The dark overtones of the foreboding and latterly terrifying 'My Body'; the semi-industrial percussive accents, unrelenting synth beat and high pitched screams of 'The Grid' as it gathers a frenzied and Gaggle like momentum; and the David Lynch meets Cindy Talk wonderful weirdness of 'I Am A Mother' are as divergent as they are diverse.
For those who crave the comfort that can be found in the tragic, longing of one of Mike's forte ballads, there is still plenty of solace. Mike's default style and particular area of expertise have not deserted him. Among the best of them here there is 'No Good', with it's beautifully beguiling close-out piano sequence, 'Too Bright' and 'Don't Let Them In'. All are crafted with such masterful dexterity, delivering up stunningly emotive and evocative songs.
With 'Too Bright', Perfume Genius has clearly pushed himself beyond his comfort zone to present a fascinating album full of curious, complex contrasts. His songs remain as exquisitely crafted as ever, but his talent as an artist has just been showcased on another level altogether.
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