Perfume Genius- Put Your Back N 2 It
By: Stone Irr
A heavy sigh, followed by a somber piano and soft horns instills life into the first song off of Perfume Genius’ second album Put Your Back N 2 It. The tape recorder quality of the vocals, piano, and synths slowly evolve into high-fidelity when the second verse rolls around on “AWOL Marine”. Piercing distortion echoes into a washed out feedback soaring over your head as the song abruptly ends. Thus begins the cathartic and undiluted musical journey of songwriter Mike Hadreas.
Every song on the album evokes some sort of fragile state through either its lyrical or musical content. The acoustic-waltz of “Normal Song” establishes the musical delicacy, as there is absence of any instrumentation other than accompanying vocals and very sparse piano. Not until the fifth song, “Take Me Home”, does the listener hear any sort of consistent drumming pattern. Despite the simplicity of the rhythm, this song drives with the help of powerful, beat-orientated piano chords. Yet the lines “I will be so quiet for you/ be like a child for you” keep the song in such a fragile, pure state.
The first highlight of the album comes with “Dirge”. With a simple piano progression and soft strings quietly breathing in the background, Hadreas whispers, “do your weeping”. In this, Hadreas seems to take cues from Sufjan Steven’s “Flint”- but instead, dissolves the same emotions down to the raw core. He breaks down these elements until he is vocally satisfied by uttering “ok” at the end of the song.
The album slightly drags for two minutes with “All Waters”, which acts as an unnecessary synthetic epilogue for the already epilogue-inclusive “Dark Parts”. As soon as this passes though, the most poppy and sincere ballad begins. “Hood” soars as the song crescendos and slowly evaporates, giving the listener just enough time to evaluate what Hadreas could have done that made him prompt his lover with “you would never call me baby/if you knew me true”.
The fuzz and warmth of “Floating Spit” induces a dream-like sequence, allowing a time of retrospect. “Sister Song”, with its “Amazing Grace” inspired melody, allows for final debriefing and poignant last word on this album. “Drive on”, Hadreas advises; ”don’t you stop until you know you’re gone”.
Perfume Genius’ new album holds nothing back; emotional and musical brevity pervade through each song. The ability to convey such pure, unabashed lyrical content is clearly Hadreas’ forte. I feel that it has been far too long since a man has left his heart at the side of the piano bench. Perfume Genius does just that in the most honest and true form possible.