Perfume Genius / Too Bright / Matador / 2014

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Too Bright is the third full length from Seattle-based solo artist Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas). RIYL: The Antlers

Hadreas’ first two records were mostly spare, piano-dominated (more bedroomy) productions. This record finds Hadreas using the studio as an instrument and stretching both his voice and ambition without abandoning his signature sound. Too Bright was recorded with Adrian Utley of Portishead and features John Parish on several tracks.

Album opener “I Decline,” as well as tracks 4, 6 & 10, are stark/spare affairs highlighting Hadreas’ traditional stock in trade: piano, his voice and atmospherics.

Track 2 “Queen” however offers a left turn. Electric guitar, live drums and bass guitar are employed, but it’s the tinkling synth part draped over the chorus and its memorable phrase “No family is safe when I sashay” that hold the song together.

Track 3, “Fool,” complete with its finger snaps and “oohs” (along with the fuller band sound) make for a sonically rich soulful tune.

I personally find the more experimental songs here to be missteps (see tracks 5, 7 & 9), but admire the moxie behind them. These songs actually call to mind the group Suicide at times.

Recommended tracks: 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11

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