There have been several reviews in advance of Mike Hadreas’ third album under the moniker, Perfume Genius, applauding the Seattle singer-songwriter for, Too Bright, his latest album on Matador Records, and rightfully so. From start to finish, the album is breathtaking yet ambitious. It avoids, for the most part, the formulaic approach of popular pop music, but instead ebbs and wanes unexpectedly and using deep, dark harmonies to create a haunting atmosphere. For instance, the rock number “Grid” has a Neon Bible-era Arcade Fire feel with its deep bass and edgy approach, but it never soars with a guitar solo nor peak too high. “Longpig” buzzes with synths and is a dizzying track, staying consistent in tone and melody to keep the listener in psychedelic state for the song’s entirety.

The strengths of the album, however, centres around two things: Hadreas’ extraordinary ability to write visual but poignant lyrics and the purpose with which he sings each song. For instance, on the outstanding, glam-rock-influenced “Queen”, which is among the best tracks – lyrically and musically – of the year, Hadreas sings assertively and satirically to demystify homosexuality. His voice bellows angrily about today’s homophobia yet at the same time chides society for treating people differently based on their sexual orientation. A lyric that you will see repeated throughout the year as among the best, “No family is safe, when I sashay”, pokes fun at the fear-mongering visions to stereotype against the LBGTI community.

On the opening track, “I Decline”, his voice is fragile, speaking about his own personal struggles to be accepted. The stunning, groovy pop jaunt “Fool” is in some ways a love song, but the fool (the one to have loved or the one to have lost it) is unknown. “All Along” is a gorgeous pop ballad, as Hadreas’ sings vulnerably about a relationship that went all wrong.

And it is this vulnerability and the sheer honesty of Hadreas’ voice and lyrics that sees Too Bright soar above the rest. It is a great musical experience; one that is challenging, thought-provoking, and completely enthralling from start to finish. And while the album is dense for today’s music standards – i.e, the focus on bubble gum lyrics and repetitive chord progressions and beats – it is immensely rewarding. It’s the album that should be listened to not just right now but for years to come.

Too Bright can be purchased at Matador Records, iTunes, and Amazon. The entire album is available on Perfume Genius’ Soundcloud page, and it is also available below.

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Facebook – Perfume Genius
Twitter – @perfumegenius

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