Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Album review: PERFUME GENIUS - Too Bright

Highlights: Queen, Fool, No Good, All Along


Christ I feel old. In the Mojo magazine from 2010 I remember Perfume Genius looking like this:

And now we are looking at a glittering homeboy who would scare me to no end if this album hit my eye in a record store:

Thankfully, album covers do not shock me anymore. I saw the Patrick Wolf of Lycanthropy transform into the Patrick Wolf of Lupercalia, so I can live with many things now. Including slick, well-groomed boys with raised eyebrows. In the end, what counts is the simple fact that Too Bright is Perfume Genius’ best album so far.

Sonically, Mike Hadreas is going for something less vulnerable and more complete. Emotionally and lyrically, this is of course still very raw, but in terms of the sound and the arrangements – we’ve changed. It’s not just affecting, broken piano notes slung through your psyche (even if we do have plenty of those; the pained and painful “All Along” will not leave you for days); this is altogether more diverse.

The booming yet strangely subdued “Queen” is almost glammy in nature. The dark and mysterious “My Body” is not unlike something you could find on an early Timber Timbre record – except for that vocal freakout in the middle. “Fool” is funky in the best way and “Longpig” is irresistible synthpop for people who do not necessarily want to dance. Lovely piano melodies provide a fine backdrop to all these (largely successful) experiments, but you would have to be deep in this territory to enjoy the disturbing, minimalist, funereal “I’m A Mother” that may initially sound like a sorrowful requiem played at the bottom of the ocean. 

Too Bright is what an ideal third album should sound like. It preserves all the elements that made Perfume Genius so good and yet gives him the chance to move forward. Intriguing, intimate chamber pop. You’d be a fool not to look out for more.

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