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.
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.