on 28 August 2010
This lo-fi gem supports the old adage that sometimes less is more. Sparse piano arrangements are often the only accompaniment to the bruised, vulnerable vocals of Mike Hadreas. Short and sweet at under half an hour, this in no way detracts from the slow-burning power of the record. It's as lo-fi and intimate as Roman Candle by Elliott Smith, or Nick Drake's Pink Moon, without being guitar-based. There is no intricate musicianship here, just dreamy, wispy songs with simple chord progressions and thoughtful lyrics.
These are songs as pretty as butterfly wings but just as delicate. Standout track Mr Peterson tells a tragic tale delivered with gentle warmth - achingly sad yet somehow uplifting. And that is the genius of Mike Hadreas. Fans of Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Radiohead, Gravenhurst and Nick Drake should investigate further.
Perfume Genius is Mike Hadreas and he comes from Seattle.
'Learning' is his debut album and it is simply marvellous.
Not since Polly Harvey's 2007 album 'White Chalk' have I
heard anything quite so bleakly beautiful (perhaps Anja
Plaschg's 2009 release 'Lovetune For Vacuum' is a close second).
The ten songs in this collection rise from the ether into the
listening world tentatively and in ghostly raiments. They are
bruised and blistered and blindingly beautiful.
With little more than a shakey upright piano and a fine ear for
subtle sonic decoration Mr Hadreas makes big magic from small things.
His fragile and ephemeral voice sits way back in the mix where it
moves us, scares us and occasionally thrills us. Neutrality is not
an option. This music demands our closest attention from top to tail.
The sublime harmonies of 'Gay Angels'; the stripped-down candour
of the startling miniature 'Write To Your Brother'; the rich
incandescent wrap-around chords of 'No Problem'; the whistful,
broken-down and reconstructed 60's ballad 'When'; the essence of
loss and regret made flesh in the dreamlike multi-layered final track
'Never Did'. Mr Hadreas' musical imagination is as idiosyncratic as it
is totally, magically, heart-pumpingly alive! Transcendent stuff!
I have to agree with other reviewers in stating that Perfume Genius has created a beautiful, haunting album.
I came to this from a music magazine recommendation and I am so glad I did. I checked out some live tracks on YouTube first and I have to say that the live tracks I heard (Never Did, Learning and Mr Peterson) seemed to resonate with emotion and power. This comes through on this album, but I felt this to be slightly more reserved and staid in comparison. It is my own fault for hearing such sublime live versions first, I know.
Saying that the tracks mentioned above are real stand-out tracks and the pared back piano and simple lyrics manage to hit home immediately. This is a relatively short album, but it is perfectly crafted and you feel it affect you as it progresses until you want to hit that play button at the end and revel in it all over again.
This is one of those album that you'll either love or hate and I'm glad to say I love it. It is haunting, intelligent and beautiful, which are all things I adore in my music. Check this out, but be warned, get the album first and then check out the live clips online. It's the best way round to do it.
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on 29 June 2010
I was falling asleep listening to 6music not too long ago, and in that moment between being awake and sleep i heard a beautiful song in which i took instant liking too.. the next morning I had no idea who the artist was so set about at work listening to the iplayer until that song came back on.. the song in question was learning by perfume genius..
I instantly pre-ordered this item on vinyl in which i received a few days back... what can I say other then beautiful, stunning, sad, haunting...
if you like music that can make you sad and happy in the same moment, such as sigur ros, explosions in the sky etc etc.. then buy this... sit back.. and enjoy.. on vinyl of course!
on 14 July 2010
The songs in this album make difficult listening, you can almost hear Mike Hadreas's heart breaking while his fragile voice cracks as he recounts Mr Peterson, the teacher that had an unhealthy obsession with him 'how my body kept him up at night'. There are warnings about living in a big city, 'lookout lookout' there are murders about'. Some of the songs don't even last two minutes, and the whole album is only 30 minutes but at the end you feel like clapping along with Mike as he sings the last few bars of the closing number Never Did.
If you like Low, you will notice the similarities with some of their earlier work e.g 'Thinks We Lost in the Fire'. The songs are stripped down to the basics and Mike's voice takes on an ethereal quality in Gay Angels.