Perfume Genius is Mike Hadreas, a Seattle songwriter whose jarring 2010 debut album, Learning, was called â€śan album of rare, redemptive beautyâ€¦one of the most uniquely endearing and quietly forceful debut albums of recent yearsâ€ť by Drowned In Sound, and established him as one of the most singular songwriters today.
The bulk of Learning sprung from a time of self-imposed isolation in his motherâ€™s suburban home following a period of trauma and self-destruction. The album was actually mastered from second-generation MP3s, as Hadreas had lost the original recordings, and this distant, abraded sound reinforced its harrowing tales and haunting melodies.
â€śNo secret/No matter how nasty/Can poison your voice/Or keep you from joy.â€ť â€“ Perfume Genius, â€śNormal Songâ€ť
Though Learningâ€™s voyeuristic window into Hadreasâ€™s experiences resonated intensely with many people, his new album
Put Your Back N 2 It is much more universal, addressing intimacy, power, family, secrecy, and hope not just through his impressionistic lyrics, but the music itself, which is as lush as Learning was stark. Itâ€™s a gorgeous soundtrack for anyone trying to keep it together in everyday life, and about moving forward.
â€śI donâ€™t want it to seem like Iâ€™ve been through more than other people,â€ť Hadreas says. â€śEveryone has stuff. Staying healthy can be more depressing and confusing than being fucked up. But I want to make music thatâ€™s honest and hopeful.â€ť
The hypnotic songs on Put Your Back N 2 It are tender and moving, but they are also surreal and grand, recalling at times the universality of lullabies and hymns, faraway folk songs, the dramatic arc of a film score, and the almost spiritual quality suggests a kind of opiated gospel. He cites as a primary influence not one of the indie icons to which heâ€™s sometimes compared (Cat Power, Bon Iver, Thom Yorke), but The Innocence Mission (â€śnot their sound, but their timelessnessâ€ť).