Back in 2010 when Mike Hadreas released Learning under the moniker Perfume Genius (see Folk Radio UK review here) no one had heard of the precocious bedroom recorder. Things are very different two years down the line with the Seattle based songwriter now marked as a serious artist, portraying honesty and simplicity in a genuinely affecting manner. Continuing to sensitively and tentatively tackle the perhaps controversial issues of his own personal struggles with addiction and sexuality Put Your Back N 2 It takes those struggles and his newly formed identity as artist for audience rather than self catharsis by taking on the issues of others.
There is all the exquisite beauty of Learning here, the starkness and simplicity of tracks such as ‘Normal Song’, professing to comfort and understand the troubled, while there are undeniably poppishly crafted numbers like ‘Take Me Home‘, which harbour a spring in their step and a slight hint of positivity at their core. Though at the heart of this album some of the more melodically memorable numbers are perhaps the more dark. This track is no exception and was the result of Hadreas’ attempts to pen a pop song about hookerism. That said there are still the agonised thoughts of his former self bubbling under the surface: ‘17‘ picks the distorted and gnarled face of a tripping teenager as eerie whitenoise and atmospheric brushes of drums create a fog of heady images. “It’s a gay suicide letter”, he explains in the press release. While ‘Floating Spit‘ is equally monstrous and magnificent with synths and patterned drums depicting the creature from Neverending Story transported to a bathhouse. ‘Dirge‘ takes a St Vincent Millay poem and places it against funereal piano and whirling organ, as ‘All Waters‘ takes a walk of solitude in a picturesque world devoid of judgement.
There is more confidence to this recording and more self assurance in dealing with these struggles and strives for affection and acceptance; instrumentation bursts with conviction on ‘Hood‘ while Hadreas’ vocals speak out just that bit more. “I run my mouth like a fool” he utters on track 5, though this fool’s heart and angst, worry and self abasement on his sleeve has got him a long way indeed.
UK and European Tour
7 – Lantern Theatre, Sheffield
8 – Captain’s Rest, Glasgow
9 – The Deaf Institute, Manchester
10 – St Pancras Old Church, London
12 – Unitarian Church @ The Great Escape, Brighton
13 – Chapel Arts, Bath
14 – St Pancras Old Church, London
16 – Botanique, Brussels
17 – Amstekkerk, Amsterdam
19 – Paradijs Chrich, Rotterdam
20 – Gebaude 9, Cologne
21 – Prinzenbar, Hamburg
22 – Privat Club, Berlin
24 – Divan Du Monde, Paris
Put Your Back N 2 It is released on 21st Feb via Organs