Thursday, 23 February 2012

Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It

Mike Hadreas has always been good at emotion. Perfume Genius’ 2010 debut ‘Learning’ was a realisation of the emotive combination of vocals and piano, wonderfully under produced, filled with heart wrenching songs which could not fail to move the listener. ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ has been given more production than the debut and Hadreas’ voice sounds stronger and more confident, while at the same time retaining the kind of hurt and confusion which made everyone fall in love with Perfume Genius in the first place. Neither of these are bad things, although I expect some fans will say they are, but they simply show Perfume Genius progressing. The contrast between the stronger production and the insecurity of the songs makes the album’s fragility all the more noticeable and all the more poignant.

Having courted controversy after the promo video for the album was removed from Youtube due to it being deemed ‘inappropriate’ (it depicted Hadreas embracing half naked porn star Arpad Miklos), you might have expected the album to be bold. Instead it is understated, not much less simple than ‘Learning’. The album opens with a single intake of breath before it begins with a simple piano melody to open ‘Awol Marine’. ‘No Tear’ is a compelling story of indifference, Hadreas’ vocals supported by baritone repetitions. If you were not to listen closely you could easily miss the sadness and hope that pervades every lyric on the album. The excesses of modern music are carefully avoided, which is especially effective on ‘17’ where everything is stripped back.

Nothing on the album quite manages to live up to the absolutely heartbreaking ‘Hood’, the first song that was released from the album. At only two minutes, it is one of those songs which you just wish went on for a little bit longer. The album’s title track comes closest to beating it though, as Hadreas pleads “let me be the one to turn you on”, as once again his emotional fragility is displayed.

If you were looking for a cheerful album this isn’t it, but that hardly diminishes its beauty. Any of the 12 songs could easily contend for saddest song of the year and by the time you reach the end you’ll just want to give Mike Hadreas a cuddle. I honestly find it hard to put into words the amount of inescapable emotion on every song on this record.


Jessy Parker

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