In his explanation of the inspiration points for each of the tracks on his masterful second album, Seattle-based solo artist Mike Hadreas (aka Perfume Genius) provided this insight: “I was not always interested in listening to anything triumphant when I was a teenager…sometimes I wanted to hear that someone felt exactly as grim and bleak as I did.”
This empathic catharsis can be taken as the central philosophy behind Perfume Genius’ hazy piano-focused ballads, which are impressionistic yet viscerally emotional. His critically-acclaimed debut, Learning, was beautiful in an abstract way, but this album is a marked improvement, thanks to Hadreas’ willingness to more explicitly reveal his feelings about family, sexuality, and the deep sense of isolation these subjects inspire within him.
The instrumentation is still often spare, but the more direct production augments the developments in Hadreas’ songwriting, as he takes another cautious step out of the shadows of his own pained psyche and uncovers a little more about what moves him.
Playlist Picks: “AWOL Marine,” “Floating Spit,” “Dark Parts”
Perfume Genius opens for Sigur Ros at Echo Beach (999 Lakeshore Blvd. W.) on Aug. 1.