Perfume Genius

Mike Hadreas’ work as Perfume Genius has often been described with words like “wounded” and “fragile.” His songs detail experiences with abuse, addiction, death, suicide, and the mistreatment of homosexuals with an elegant, but shy, sparseness. His phenomenal 2012 album Put Your Back N 2 It never really got the acclaim it deserved, and the biggest story attached to it was more about the politics behind Google/YouTube rejecting its promo for not being “family safe” (it showed two shirtless men hugging). Now Perfume Genius has announced his third album Too Bright — one of our most anticipated albums of the year — and it’s immeasurably cathartic when lead single “Queen” begins with Hadreas singing “Don’t you know your queen?” The song (and the entire album, one gathers from a press release comparing it to colossi like Scott Walker’s Tilt and Kate Bush’s The Dreaming) is the sound of floodgates letting loose, of all of the muted intensity that’s come before igniting and burning hot and fierce. Even in his most anthemic moments, like the final section of “Hood,” Perfume Genius has never sounded this furious and confident. It’s something fans (and likely Hadreas) needed even if we didn’t realize it at the time. Listen.

Hadreas explains how the song is about gay panic in this statement:

Sometimes I see faces of blank fear when I walk by … if these fucking people want to give me some power — if they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggles — well, here she comes.

Here’s the album tracklist:
01 “I Decline”
02 “Queen”
03 “Fool”
04 “No Good”
05 “My Body”
06 “Don’t Let Them In”
07 “Grid”
08 “Longpig”
09 “I’m A Mother”
10 “Too Bright”
11 “All Along”

It was recorded with Portishead’s Adrian Utley and John Parish appears on several tracks.

Too Bright is out 9/22 via Matador Records. Pre-order here.

Comments (18)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I would really love for you to elaborate on your first sentiment here bc right now I really wanna tell you to shut the fuck up but I would hate to be as misinformed as you are.

      • if you don’t want to be misinformed than educate yourself:

        “For Many Gays and Lesbians, the Term ‘Homosexual’ is Flinch-Worthy”
        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/fashion/gays-lesbians-the-term-homosexual.html?_r=0

      • GLAAD Media Reference Guide: “Please use “gay” or “lesbian” to describe people attracted to members of the same sex. Because of the clinical history of the word “homosexual,” it is aggressively used by anti-gay extremists to suggest that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered – notions discredited by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. Please avoid using “homosexual” except in direct quotes. Please also avoid using “homosexual” as a style variation simply to avoid repeated use of the word “gay.” The Associ­ated Press, The New York Times and The Washington Post restrict use of the term “homosexual” (see AP, New York Times & Washington Post Style).” http://www.glaad.org/reference/offensive

        This is the norm in the media, but Stereogum writers being total amateurs is pretty much par for the course.

      • “Is it past time to remove the word “homosexual” from the list of acceptable terms the media uses to describe gays and lesbians? … As Equality Matters reported this week, use of the term “homosexual” to refer to gay and lesbian people long ago fell out of favor with most mainstream news outlets, as “homosexual” is commonly used by opponents of LGBT equality — and rarely by advocates.”

        From a story in the Advocate criticizing Fox News for clinging to the term “homosexual” in their reporting on LGBT issues: http://www.advocate.com/politics/media/2014/03/27/fox-news-clings-term-homosexual-covering-lgbt-issues

        • I think the issue here was more about this part of your statement: “nobody really uses this term to describe gay/bi/lesbian people anymore,” because it implies an obliviousness to reality akin to saying, “It’s not the 1950s, nobody uses the N-word anymore.” People living in the real world know that’s simply not true.

          • But the fact remains that professionals in the media do not use the term anymore. I don’t think it’s remotely akin to using the N-word and I didn’t claim that. But anyone who makes an effort to keep up with LGBT issues would know that term has fallen out of favor.

        • Idk, I wasn’t offended by it. Maybe it’s a little antiquated but I also wouldn’t read that much into it tbh

    • Gay guy here. We don’t like that name and I still get called it.

      • Gay guy here. I had no idea that word had fallen out of favor. And i don’t mind it.

        It really is a rainbow….

        • 1. Hi gay ‘gummers, glad we’re all congregating on the Perfume Genius story
          2. To clarify, it’s not that the term is “offensive” or a “slur,” I’m talking specifically about media etiquette. If a group of people are called one thing by “experts” and/or haters (“homosexual”) but use a different name to organize and describe themselves (“gay”, “lesbian”), you should go with the name the group has given itself and not one that has sort of been forced on them. Cf. “American Indian” / “Native American” vs. “Indian”, “Black”/:African-American” vs. “Negro”, etc.
          3. Sorry to have derailed the thread, this is a great song

  2. That last Pefume Genius album topped my personal best of list in 2012

  3. Great production, really excited for this.

  4. This is a great track, a lot more fleshed out than much of his earlier stuff. Loving the production too.

  5. Queen is absolutely epic. It’s gonna be in my top 5 songs for the year. Can’t wait for the album.

  6. Starts like Grizzly Bear’s ‘Alligator’, ends with ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’-like choir. Love it.

    This is going to be *the* song of the week coming friday, right Stereogum?

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