There are two pivotal aspects of music I look for when I first hear an album. First of all, I look for any musical complexities that make me get lost in the chord progressions and layered sounds. I also look for lyrics I can relate to or storytelling within the lyrics that takes me to a different place completely. Either way, I’m constantly seeking something abstract that takes my mind on a new journey.
When I first heard the new Perfume Genius album, Put Your Back N 2 It, I did not hear any musical complexities, nor was I totally sold on the song lyrics. However, I was immediately captivated by Mike Hadreas’ heartfelt vocals and overall passion through each and every track. Make sure you have a box of tissues close by because this album is poignant and somber to the max. His beautiful falsetto makes his lyrics truly come alive and he often sounds like he is holding back tears. Don’t get me wrong, his song lyrics are far from boring and though they aren’t intricate necessarily, they are so brutally honest and his voice delivers them in such a sincere tone. I almost felt like I was surreptitiously reading through his diary at some parts; it’s devastating how open and honest Mike presents himself throughout this new release. Songs like“Normal Song” and “Hood” have common chord progressions, but his powerful vocals make tracks like these all the more touching.“Hood” illustrates the struggle of revealing one’s true identity when in a romantic relationship and how it’s even harder when you think the other person wouldn’t love you if only they knew who you really are.
As for an overarching theme in Put Your Back N 2 It, Mike Hadreas deals with problems of drugs, abuse, and even suicide. “17” was the first standout track for me and he has said in interviews that it is written in reference to a gay suicide letter. Musically, these songs are backed by a piano or guitar and the simplicity of it all is appealing to me because it makes the vocals stand out tremendously.
Even though it is incredibly hard for me to pick a favorite track, “All Waters” is the one that sends the most shivers down my spine. All in all, Put Your Back N 2 It is a magnificent work of art because of the way that it so effortlessly captures the pain of human emotions. I would say it is a major improvement from Mike Hadreas’ debut album, Learning. The production is better, the album as whole seems more consistent. It isn’t as lo-fi as the last release; you can hear his voice clearly this time. The only complaint I have is that the songs are so short (the album is only 32 minutes long), but perhaps that is the magic of this release. It leaves you wanting more every time.