Perfume Genius: Too Bright

Perfume GeniusPerfume Genius
Too Bright
(Matador Records)

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Two years on from the brilliant Put Your Back N 2 It, Perfume Genius (née Mike Hadreas) has delivered another winner, flitting between sophisticated classical and ‘80s nostalgia with effortless precision. Clocking in at just over half an hour, Too Bright feels like a deliberate, sharply-honed work of art.

The piano-based opener “I Decline” is chillingly sparse. In just a couple verses, Hadreas politely waves off a familiar path and a welcoming angel. This gives way to the fuzz-heavy lead single “Queen,” which mocks bigotry with cleverly hyperbolic lines like “No family is safe when I sashay.” Not that Hadreas is always comfortable in his own skin. “My Body” treats his form as a loathed adornment, while “Don’t Let Them In” goes so far to state that he is trapped in his body.

Perhaps most striking is the title track. Hadreas’ beautiful croon can sometimes make it difficult to decipher the lyrics, but his delicate piano and subdued string accompaniment bring all the emotion necessary. So much of Too Bright’s power as an album is the way the music or vocals cue a reaction. Whether it’s a lingering piano note, a fragile high note, or slinky synth, the listener can feel each track sink in. It just so happens that brave, confessional lyrics round out the package.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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