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coverpic flag US - Washington - Full Moon 224 - 12/06/14

Perfume Genius
Too Bright
Matador Records

Too Bright has been out for a couple of months already, but since I really liked Perfume Genius' (AKA Seattle native Mike Hadreas) first two albums, 2010's Learning and 2012's Put Your Back N 2 It, I must check out this third platter as well. Again, Hadreas' melancholic and dramatic chamber pop wins through. This is bright stuff, made by a small genius.

Too Bright is led by the singles "Queen" (released in July) and "Grid" (released in September). This is an album holding sophisticated arrangements, as you find in the music of Owen Pallett, or even Caribou. Except the latter has more of a mixed bag of synth grooves in it. I could even add some of Antony Hegarty's moments to compare it to some of Mike Hadreas' songs. According to Matador Records, Perfume Genius/Hadreas has '...cemented his place as a singer-songwriter of rare frankness'. Further they say that he writes/creates songs being 'achingly emotional', and Hadreas' songs offer 'empathy and hope'. He still is king of stark, sparse, piano-driven ballads with a sting. "No Good" is such a great ballad. Emotional, stirring, gorgeous. "Queen" jumps to the floor, and grabs the mic: Yes, it is quite a to-the-point and naked song. Like he always does (most of) his songs. "Queen" is tough, cocky, and stylish. It is way cool. "I Decline" is likewise cool. It seems like most of Perfume Genius' songs appear to be personal statements from Hadreas, and they all work so well. Like Matador say it, he offers '...empathy and hope, rather than any judgment or handwringing'.

As the record spins and flips, spins and flips... over and over, it comes quite clear that Too Bright is Perfume Genius' brightest moment, being Hadreas' best album so far. Yes, I love Learning, but I am willing to admit this one to be the better. There is not a weak song among the eleven tracks. I have mentioned a few, and I could namedrop the bouncy "Grid", the quiet and sore "I Am A Mother", or the album closer: The phenomenal "All Along". Too Bright is, in fact a parade.

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You may also want to check out our Perfume Genius articles/reviews: All Waters, Learning, Put Your Back N 2 It.

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