PerfumeGenius_LEAD

Perfume Genius‘ fourth studio album No Shape represents a bold move forward. Mike Hadreas takes listeners down a path of self-discovery; courageously opening his inner sanctum for the sake of honest art. He openly discusses his frustrations, hopes and fears, and applies a simple yet poignant technique to deliver his message. By letting his guard down he’s stepping away from the burden of expectation, a moment of liberation that his him framing fundamental questions of gender and identity.

The idea of being shapeless extends to the overall sound as well, never adhering to one standard formula. He doggedly careens in and out of compositions, matching the intensity of the revelations being experienced. For so long he’s been boxed in and by using a broader landscape to discuss his frustrations he’s able to expand his lyrical range. He succeeds because he doesn’t lose himself to the intensity of the moment, he simply takes his newfound perspective and marches forward with cautious optimism.

Otherside

A blistering kaleidoscope of sound announces a profound emotional breakthrough. Like a snake shedding its skin, he’s leaving all the painful memories behind; finding new life by forgetting the past. The fresh start is liberating, but the unsightly scars still remain. His quest is taking him to the very edge, and he’s exorcising his demons one beat at a time. A sojourn that begins at the heart:

Otherside

Slip Away

Heavy percussion rumbles over the landscape, creating a chaotic whirlwind of emotions and ideas. Forbidden love is at the center, and as the beat reaches its crescendo all that has been repressed explodes in a destructive rage. It’s not all about pleasure, but a chance to breathe in a world that has a tendency to stifle differences. He’s ecstatic, but still trying to catch his wind:

Slip Away

Just Like Love

Inspired in part by a coming of age story on Facebook, a mirror that reflected back a similar experience. It jolts him into the past and he’s reliving the happiness of better days. But there is a bittersweet moment at hand. He knows the alienation that comes with self-awareness and he wants to pen a song that could serve as a beacon of light; trying to be the hero he never had:

Just Like Love

Go Ahead

The beat is minimal and sparse, and spacious enough to house his swelling ego. This is his hype song, a spirited jam that injects his heart with the type of bravado needed to put life’s most precious moments on display. The enemies that have been coming for him arrive a little too late. He’s already moved on to bigger and better things, mocking the foes who are always one step behind:

Go Ahead

Valley

Inspired by a stint in rehab, he pens an open letter to a forgotten comrade. The acoustics manufacture a warmth that is tantamount to a tender hug. He thinks he saw a friend who had relapsed and this is his way of saying that everything will be okay; that we all stumble, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. He’s acknowledging the long road to recovery, and making sure to withhold all judgments:

Valley

Wreath

The beat pulses with frantic urgency, creating a thick and palatable tension; one that has him close to snapping like a cable wire. He is vehemently admonishing his body, frustrated with its seemingly endless limitations. He wants his inner mind to define him, and the thought of being a formless entity becomes more appealing as the days go by. With no body to hold him down, he is free of all pain:

Wreath

Every Night

Another out of body experience that has him drifting around in a state of peaceful bliss. He’s channeling energy from an unknown source, hoping that through time it’ll eventually reveal itself to him. All the abstractions is him trying to draw a circle around this strange feeling, and he’s hoping that it’ll lead to another revelatory moment. An obscure description of things unseen:

Every Night

Choir

His journey has been marked by spiritual growth, experiences that have left him feeling closer to god. Those moments of clarity are balanced out by gaping voids made up of cold sterility. He’s not sure if it’s the presence of evil or a grim reminder that in the end there may be no benevolent god to greet him. He’s acknowledging this fear, slowly coming to terms with a possible truth:

Choir

Die 4 You

He’s letting his guard down again, giving himself over completely. It’s a terrifying feeling, but one that offers respite. He knows that vulnerability of this magnitude could leave him permanently scarred, but it won’t deter him from forging on; it’s what gives him that creative edge. Love is the main premise and he’s willing to put himself in harm’s way just to experience it:

Die 4 You

Sides

Getting wrapped up in his own mind has caused him a great deal of turmoil. On one hand it puts him in a potent creative mood, on the other it isolates him from the rest of the world; pulling him away from those that care for him and need him most. He’s trying to find compromise, and commissions a close ally to help him adjust. She adds a soft touch, carefully reeling him back to reality:

Sides

Braid

A soft lullaby crafted with love and tenderness. It’s a love song at heart, and a thank you to his closest companion. Their lives have braided into one, and they are stronger together than they ever were alone. He’s pledging allegiance, promising his other half that he will be there through thick and thin. On the surface it seems distant and vague, but brewing underneath is a steady heartbeat:

Braid

Run Me Through

Liberation through vulnerability has been a consistent theme, and he’s continuing the process by letting himself go yet again. By dropping his guard he’s freeing himself from all expectations. It lightens the emotional load and transforms him into something more than human. The dramatic orchestrations add to the cinema, creating a sonic wonderland where he’s free to be himself:

Run Me Through

Alan

A straight forward love song penned for the most important person in his life. His longtime boyfriend Alan brings him peace and comfort, and without him he’d be lost. By finding someone who understands him he’s able to breathe easy and create without restrictions. His voice and heart are singing, and the idea is that so long as they’re together he can achieve anything. True love at last:

Alan