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Too Bright (Matador/Beggars)
As Perfume Genius, American singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas has become synonymous with dark and emotionally heavy piano dirges that are as vulnerable as they are elegant.
His third album contains many such songs, but also ratchets up the drama with help from co-producer Adrian Utley of Portishead, whose battery of vintage synths and creepy sound effects turns the underlying anger in Hadreas’s beautiful ballads in bluntly confrontational directions.
Flamboyance, in particular, becomes a weapon of intimidation. The lyric “No family is safe when I sashay” from glammed-up lead single, Queen, is not only the album’s most quotable, but sums up Perfume Genius’s increasingly unapologetic ethos. It’s one of many soul-baring diversions – the transcendental howl interrupting the finger-snapping soul of Fool, the subtle vocal menace of I’m A Mother, the screeching urgency of Grid – that Hadreas is able to pull off because his conviction is so palpable.
Top track: Fool
Perfume Genius plays the Virgin Mobile Mod Club on October 4.