"No secret, no matter how nasty/can poison your voice or keep you from joy" sings Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, on "Normal Song," the second track off an album full of raw, powerful and often harrowing songs.
"Put Your Back N 2 It" is a sonic portrait of a brave soul ... willing to put his feelings, his experiences, his love, his pain and his humanity out into the world in an unfiltered way that very few people probably ever have the guts to. The songs on this album are fairly short, featuring mostly simple arrangements and straightforward vocals. However, this only adds to the emotional punch the songs pack.
"There is love with no hiding," Mike proclaims on the album's title track, and on "Dark Parts," an aching love song, he offers "I will take the dark part of your heart/into my heart." If this album has a theme, it seems to be unconditional acceptance ... of yourself, of others, and of life.
Recently, a handful of pop stars have released songs that are supposed to inspire LGBT youth (Lady Gaga's "Born This Way", Katy Perry's "Firework", et al). On "All Waters," when Mike sings "When I can take your hand/on any crowded street/and hold you close to me/with no hesitation," it's the most resonant, powerful, and political song about the experience of an LGBT person I've ever heard.
The only other artist I can think of that I can possibly compare Perfume Genius to is the late Elliot Smith, who also crafted simple, powerful, heartbreaking songs. While there is despair in Perfume Genius' songs for sure, there is also a resiliency perhaps lacking in Smith's work. "I will carry on with grace," Mike sings in "No Tear," and I believe him.