Album Review

Too Bright

Too Bright

by Perfume Genius


Matador Records
8 / 10
3rd October 2014

Reviewed by Nick Miller


Perfume Genius rose to popularity on the back of beautifully hushed melodies and intimate personal confessions. However his third record, Too Bright, resets the bar. Mike Hadreas’ last two records as Perfume Genius, Learning and Put Your Back N 2 It, were sparse and stripped back. They largely succeeded by laying bare the integrity and intensity of Hadreas’ lyrics, which focused on his experiences with his sexuality and a wider exploration of gay culture. For this reason it would be a mistake to say that until now Hadreas has taken the safe road. But Too Bright is bold in an entirely different way – it remains raw and honest, whilst also taking a large sonic step up. Lead single ‘Queen’, for example, is a 70s glam stomper that evokes T-Rex, while ‘Fool’ could in parts be mistaken for a lost cut from Simply Red.

In recent interviews with Hadreas, the lyrics on Too Bright have been characterised as more aggressive and confronting than those of his past work, but given the soundtrack he employs to get these sentiments across it’s often hard to feel shocked. The immediately catchy synths and handclaps of ‘Longpig’, for example, sit so much at the fore that it’s easy to overlook the song’s real narrative (which centres on lesbian utopias and ritual human sacrifice). The contrast of lyrics this dark, set to music this accessible, provides a beauty in itself. But as if to break things up a bit, Hadreas also occasionally deploys the delicate Perfume Genius balladry of old – and tracks like ‘I Decline’, ‘Don’t Let Them In’, and ‘All Along’ all do this job nicely. However the real brilliance of Too Bright is the reinvention of Perfume Genius as a pop musician, as well as a more complex and multi-faceted artist.








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