PHIEND: Perfume Genius’ Put Your Back N 2 It

February 21, 2012


[Phiend: The Best New Releases, Finds, Inspirations, etc]

I’ve been staring at this screen for several minutes now, trying to capture something better than the Drowned In Sound’s review from Dom Gourlay on Perfume Genius’ newest LP, Put Your Back N 2 It. Gourlay puts the Seattle-based musician and songwriter like this: “There are some artists that evidently try too hard, some that obviously fake it, and then there’s Perfume Genius.” I can’t really surmise the sound of Put Your Back N 2 It any better.

I haven’t heard this much heart-felt admiration strung out on a record since Antony and the Johnson’s I Am a Bird Now. And here I am not trying to compare two artists actively in support for gay rights, or the objection between the difference between gender and sexual identity (because really I can only agree in this: whatever the fuck you want to be, do it). But what I’m trying to say is that these two artists engage so much emotion within their music (what a statement of opaque cliché, I know) that it’s hard not to feel  involved personally, especially on Put Your Back N 2 It.

Sparking controversy for the music video for “Hood,” where Mike Hadreas (aka Perfume Genius) and male porn star Arpad Miklos embrace one another while only wearing underwear, YouTube deemed it inappropriate for a family audience (their words were “unsafe”). Michael Stipe, bald headed front man of R.E.M. said, “For YouTube to deem this advertisement as “non family safe” is dumbheaded discrimination; I find their actions in doing so disgraceful and cowardly. YouTube, shame on you.  You were born of the 21st Century, now act like it” (via Tumblr).

“Hood” is the obvious standout of the album, a shortened testament of a veiled relationship, and a bittersweet piano-laden soulful resonance focusing the power of the simple buildup within denouement of crash-cymbal-angst. You would never call me ‘baby,’ states Hadreas, If you knew me truly. Watch the video for “Hood” below. 

After listening to Put Your Back N 2 It, the listener can only wish to really know Perfume Genius truly without a guise. On the barely two-minute ballad “No Tear,” we get a sense of a hopelessness within the state of optimism, as if loss is merely an act of life’s lessons. The thematic elements presented create a world of the first glimpse of sunshine after the natural disaster, and regardless of how Perfume Genius feels, he states, I will carry on with grace / zero tears on my face.

On “Sister Song,” the final track on Put Your Back N 2 It, the listener has followed the artist through the trenches of love, hate, and hope. Like most of the tracks, the song is under two-minutes and thirty seconds, but it carries us over that hump, smilingly, simple and jovial: Drive on, drive on / My special one / Don’t you stop ’til you you’re gone / Your sister and me have a set of keys / Don’t you worry your head ’bout a thing. Hadreas is a lock-smith, opening up avenues, not doors, of musical capability in the 21st century.

Put Your Back N 2 It is out today via Matador.


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