This is an American rock ‘n’ roll album by big American pop star Perfume Genius.
Known early as a poster-wraith for notorious, joyous, tortured and free boys, girls and their fellow travelers, the first two albums by Perfume Genius consisted largely of exquisite and cruelly abbreviated songs seemingly sung in the dark at a piano with all the silences left in. The previously most recent album, 2014’s Too Bright, stepped out saucily onto a bigger stage, expressing, with the production help of Adrian Utley, emotions arranged all along the slippery continuum from rage to irony to love. Now here we have seized the vocabulary of the full expression of all music.
WHAT IS THIS
Here in 13 ferocious and sophisticated tracks, Mike Hadreas and his collaborators blow through church music, makeout music, an array of the gothier radio popular formats, rhythm and blues, art pop, krautrock, queer soul, the RCA Studio B sound, and then also collect some of the sounds that only exist inside Freddy Krueger. Tremolo on the electric keys. Nightclubbing. Daywalking. Peter Greenawaying, Springsteening, Syreetaing.
Luridness was a quality of music in the 1960s that is mostly since shunned. The big male crooners were all fiercely lurid as an expression of passion or lustiness or general dickability. That’s something perfect to take back. You took us to church and told us to believe in ghosts. You took us to school and told us to believe in the great American project of inclusion. Instead we started fucking to the great American project of rock and roll. There’s more than one sexy soul song here. Seduction is also spellcraft. Rock and roll was an incantation, a beg to give it up baby. It’s not that different from begging Some Thing to not let you die when you are alone and afraid.
A QUICK BREAK ABOUT HOW
Blake Mills — the one who produced the Alabama Shakes record and who performs with John Legend — produced the record with precision and expansion. Some things are pretty and some are blasted beyond recognition. In the studio with Shawn the engineer, Mike and Blake would hear quite different voices as they worked and they built this together.
MORE ON THE TOPIC OF WHY
God is all around actually and some of these songs are about being equal and some are about the witchcraft of believing. This is church music the same way Prince’s Black Album is — too dirty. It’s femme art pop the way Kate Bush’s The Dreaming is — too scary. Prayer is indistinguishable from OCD but feels a lot cleaner.
LIFE IS ACKNOWLEDGING THAT WE EACH STRIVE FOR HAPPINESS
Who gets to live now? That’s a question up for active international debate. Lots of folks are getting a clear view into what they all think of us. When we can, we should not have to care. You should feel great listening here, even when you’re sad. Our job is to find love and connection and goodness. Records like this, records that make you feel like you’re 15 and just seeing the truth for the first time, are excessively rare. They’re here to remind you that you’re divine.