“No secret, No matter how nasty, Can poison your voice, Or keep you from joy”
- Normal Song
It all just felt wrong, kind of dirty, like I was hearing something that I wasn’t supposed to have access to. Listening to Perfume Genius’ harrowing autobiographical confessionals on his 2010 debut LP Learning made me feel as if I was 13 years old again and reading my sister’s diary. Not to say that I ever did that, Sheryl. Mike Hadreas’ songs were so personal and honest; it felt voyeuristic, as if he accidentally left the mic on and I wasn’t supposed to actually be hearing as much as I did. But it was laid out there in the open for all of us to hear—heartfelt and moving ballads, simultaneously both minimalist and grand—and the world listened.
Less confessional but equally honest and touching, Put Your Back N 2 It, his latest full-length release, still ponders the social and self-identity issues of a young openly gay man in today’s world. Although the pain and trials Hadreas paints from his still-developing palette don’t always make for an easy listen, primarily due his jarring style, his music is nonetheless gorgeously composed and uniquely intense… and as romantic as anything I’ve ever heard.
Perfume Genius just released a Take Away Show for La Blogotheque shot by Derrick Belcham in Brooklyn, performing three songs from the new LP, which is out now on Matador Records—”Hood”, “Normal Song” and “Dark Parts”.
We start in the main hall of the Manhattan Inn. A salvaged baby grand lies in wait under a skylight that feeds tentacled plant-life none of us can reason is alive or dead. Mike’s voice fills the abandoned hall with a song perfectly suited to the privacy of the moment.
We move on to the bar, light-less and sanitized, another blank canvas which he now fills with a solo, slow, insular notes are aimed at nostalgic fragments displayed in the rafters.
We transition back to the piano. To finish, Mike has arranged a sparse but joyful piece to meet the zenith of the sun as it settles over the skylight above and invites us out into the day.