perfume genius learning
  • THURSDAY, AUGUST 05, 2010

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Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, produces music that nurtures a specific sort of ambiance, one that feels so intimate and personal that your ears become keen to the most minute inflections in his trembling voice and the most gentle taps of piano keys. Most of the songs on his beautifully tragic Matador-released debut Learning, are played over the kinds of simple piano arrangements that you might've learned in grade school&mdash cute, kitschy, straightforward&mdash but the lyrical content and stories behind them possess a mature depth totally incomprehensible to any 12-year-old.

In fact, the tender sadness of "Learning" and "Look Out, Look Out" are enough to make the heart of a 23-year-old like myself want to shatter into pieces. It's a perfect little concoction that Perfume Genius has for himself: songs whose structural backbones are a tad elementary and recall homemade tapes, but whose narratives are almost too serious and sufferable to digest.

Track after track unfolds like a deep dark secret; the way they are so delicately sung it's almost as though Hadreas knows we are blatantly staring into his soul. The baring of himself is something that, at times, sounds painful for him to do and he shows hesitance as to letting us in all the way. But at other times, he commands his stories, like he must tell them in order to feel make himself feel better. It's in letting go that he can learn to feel absolved.

He isn't "playing the role" of the tortured artist, nor is there anything calculated or emptily rehearsed about his album, or the way that he performs on it. Perfume Genius is the type of artist who is transparent through his own music, so much so that listeners need not anything else from him, and in some cases, may even feel a little uncomfortable with such raw honesty. His ability to shock, or at the most basic, to feel, should not go unrecognized because it's not everyday that music sincerely moves us. It's usually a gimmick or a poppy hook that grabs our attention, but all Hadreas had to do was to let us walk in his shoes for a mere 30 minutes. -michelle geslani

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MP3: "Learning"
Perfume Genius on Myspace

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