The Agony and the Ecstasy of Perfume Genius

May 11, 2017

The seattle-based musician Perfume Genius, real name Mike Hadreas, came to national attention with 2014's acclaimed album Too Bright, a meditation on being queer in a straight world. On lead single "Queen," he intoned, "No family is safe when I sashay." His new album, No Shape, out now, is more about transcending the physical. These songs morph from lean ballads to textured, messy soundscapes as bubbly synths get punctured by reverb-heavy guitar and slim percussion builds to exploding chords. On the interlude "Choir," an eerie violin piece narrated by Hadreas, he groans, "I can't dream/Something keeps me locked."

But there are lovely moments of peace too. "Did you notice babe everything is all right?" he asks in "Alan," a tender lullaby to his longtime partner and bandmate Alan Wyffels. "I'm here, how weird." He may not be entirely contented, but as a body of work, No Shape settles into its own affecting groove.

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