It’s happened. My GOD, it’s happened: an album has been released that beats Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence for Album of the Year! Well, MY album of the year I should say. But either way, I’ve been wondering if anything would come out that would kick Ultraviolence’s ass and I was highly (no pun intended) doubtful. We’re so close to the end of the year and the album is sheer perfection – a sonic masterpiece – and let’s face it, that stuff isn’t getting pumped out in huge doses these days.
Well, lucky us – something has left that mythical factory: the new album Too Bright by queer indie artist Mike Hadreas, better known as Perfume Genius. I point out his queerness for one special reason: young queer artists discovering their voices now get yet another great role model to draw inspiration and courage from. Back in my day (old lady voice) we didn’t have that. But the youth these days do – and YAY for that. Anyway, I realize I’m late to the Perfume Genius party – this is the third release after all – but I have to thank my homegurl the moonbaby for posting about him and putting him on my radar. You’re always right, gurl! #MusicTwins
Too Bright has everything I love in an album: solid songs with strong melodies (um QUEEN, hello), killer vocal harmony structures and interesting production techniques. Lyrics aren’t as important to me since I tend to listen to a lot of abstract stuff where the meaning behind the words is cloaked and can be interpreted a number of ways…but on this album, I’m quite taken by them – especially the hook on “Queen”, which the rest of the album kind of hangs off of: “No family is safe when I sashay!” The production, especially, is much more polished than the previous two Perfume Genius albums Learning and Put Your Back 2N It, though the work didn’t suffer at all for it (they are equally brilliant to Too Bright). Much like Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence, the producers simply took Too Bright into another dimension, adding shading and accents but letting the core of the work remain true to the artist. There’s more grit and punch this time around though but it suits Mike’s voice and energy of these songs. There is still a lot of him at his piano, singing songs that will rip your heart out, but the album really shines when it gets heavy, like with the first two singles “Queen” and “Grid” and grimy “My Body”.
Something else I really love about Perfume Genius – and this spans all three albums – is that he’s not self-indulgent at all. There are some artists who throw on 18+ songs onto an album with many of them being over 6 minutes long (::cough:: Tori Amos ::cough::). Some may see that as a treat but I see it as a lack of editing. Very few Perfume Genius songs even break the 3-minute mark and each album has fewer than 12 songs. We’re given short – but searingly intense – gems proving that he certainly knows the attention span of his audience…and to leave them wanting more.
So buy it. Now. The first two singles will draw you in but the magnificence of the remaining tracks will keep you. Start to finish, inside out, Too Bright is the masterpiece of 2014. Unless something better comes out. The bar has been raised, so good luck on that one.
Stand-Out Tracks: EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
Your Homegurl for Life,