Mike Hadreas (better known by his stage name Perfume Genius) has just released what may be his most vital and powerful album yet. His third studio album, “Too Bright” (released on September 23 through Matador), maintains the knack for profound, economical lyricism and achingly beautiful torch songs that was present in his earlier work. This time around, however, he seems more defiantly confident and, frankly, pissed off. And it’s all the better for it. The music itself is full of ominous synths, touches of glam, and equal parts PJ Harvey and George Michael for good measure. With “Too Bright,” Hadreas has broadened his horizons and created a necessary conversation on gay panic, stereotypes, and illusions.
Adding to the power of the music are the visuals that accompany some of Hadreas’s songs. Despite a fairly brief career, he has already left us with at least three (by my count) iconic music videos. The videos for “Queen” and “Grid” alone (both off of “Too Bright”) have made their mark, and they both seem of a piece, working within the same visual world. Campy, surreal, dreamlike, and nightmarish (with some hints of gay underground filmmaking), the music videos feel like glimpses into the mind of Hadreas himself. If you don’t like what you see, you’re going to have to get over it.
I recently spoke to Hadreas over the phone in advance of his show in Boston at Brighton Music Hall on Monday, October 6. To my horror, halfway through our lovely conversation on music videos, I realized that the recorder had malfunctioned and shut off (endless tears). Instead of forcing him to rehash what he had already said, I didn’t mention it and moved on. So what I was left with are some quotes on the influence of David Lynch, the prospect of a bigger budget, and a list of some of his favorite music videos (connected by their sense of simplicity, rebellion, and subversion). It was still more than enough to make me happy.
On His Music Videos and the Influences Behind Them:
“I would like to think that they’re totally me. I think I was thinking about the things I always do. Like I’m obsessed with David Lynch, and I wanted, especially with ‘Queen,’ like… You have that same thing where there are campy elements, even something kind of fun to it, but it’s shot in this cinematic way that brings some darkness to it.”
On David Lynch:
“I like how David Lynch will be relentlessly dark, but then there’s some really weird throwaway line, and it’s just ridiculous and bizarre and has no ‘reason’ for it, but it’s just like a weird giggle in-between something demonic and horrifying.”
On the Prospect of a Bigger Budget:
“Especially with the second one (‘Grid’), I think if I had a larger budget, I would’ve made it more disgusting and even worse, so…”
|Nü Sensae: “I’m a Body”|
|Sinead O’Connor: “Troy”|
|PJ Harvey: “Man-Size”|
|The Knife: “Pass This On”|
|Some of His Favorites:|