Perfume Genius
Learning


4.5
superb

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
July 7th, 2010 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hadreas' debut resonates profoundly and pulls at the heart strings.

No one will answer your prayers / Until you take off that dress,” quavers frailly one Mike Hadreas on the title-track to his debut album, Learning. It is often said that naked we were born, and naked we shall return – but emotionally naked shall we ask for help? In his music Hadreas at least believes this, for he has lived a life that’s layers could not help but be peeled away and revealed through any artistic output he should ever choose to pursue, however tragic the results would be. As he sheds his skin over delicate piano chords and light-weight synths on this Matador release, we hear, and even feel, Hadreas’ remorse, pain, and suffering through his personal tales of suicide, abuse, and addiction.

After stumbling into a life that he described himself as “headed down the path of self-oblivion,” Hadreas returned to his mother’s house in Everett, Washington to try to re-establish himself, in whatever way he could. It was here that he wrote the title-track to this first release, its creation sparking months after months of writing, recording, and playing for friends and family. Both the song’s instrumentation and melody are delicate and moving, setting a tone for the rest of Learning that flows smoothly over one silky line of tragedy, entangled with both Hadreas’ frail, broken vocal delivery and pleading, simple instrumentals.

Not so unlike the profound statement that was Sigur Ros’ 2002 Untitled, “Gay Angels” is a cut that utilizes the aching delivery of the vocalist as a musical instrument to caress its synths and ambient textures. Here the songwriter is vocally not such a far-off comparison to the Icelandic band’s Jonsi, both in his falsetto and mournful wale; but most often the “Perfume Genius” rests easily somewhere along the line between Sufjan Stevens and Neil Young, particularly in his fragile and just-close-of-dying tone. It’s his voice that cruxes the factually based single, “Mr. Peterson,” a song in which Hadreas reveals what could have been an intimate relationship with a mentor in his past:”He let me smoke weed in his truck / If I could convince him that I loved him enough, enough, enough,” who then goes on to unfortunately commit suicide at a time when the songwriter was just sixteen years old.

Ever so lightly deviating from the course that Learning sets out on, mostly on the aforementioned “Gay Angels” and the synth-weighted “No Problems,” the album keeps a steady, unwavering course, varying slightly from one melody to the next. Its thirty-minute length helps keep things from becoming stale, and since Hadreas' emotions are so well engrafted into, and coming across from, the album, Learning never quite becomes boring or overtly melodramatic. On a slightly smaller scale, it’s not so unlike the backdrop-story effect of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which aided in that album's success, gave it additional emotional relevance, and even influenced the very sounds pervading its songs.

In one sense, as Hadreas puts it, “My background . . . shouldn’t have led up to this point,” as he was seemingly on a road to self-destruction that could have just as easily ended his life in very much the same way as one Mr. Peterson's did. But in another way of looking at it, Learning is the only result that could have come from the path that Hadreas has up until now transgressed. Thanks to a spark of inspiration that came to him one day while sitting at his mother’s piano in Washington, the songwriter found his calling and steered into a hopeful musical direction to begin anew, leading to the creation of Learning, essentially the best debut album of 2010 thus far.



Recent reviews by this author
There Will Be Fireworks The Dark, Dark BrightBring Me the Horizon Sempiternal
As I Lay Dying AwakenedTim Hecker Harmony in Ultraviolet
Thousand Foot Krutch The End Is Where We BeginOwen I do perceive.
user ratings (55)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
July 7th 2010


5804 Comments


here's a stream:

http://etceterasongs.blogspot.com/2010/06/perfume-genius-learning.html

Romulus
July 7th 2010


8443 Comments


Oh shit two of my 5s are in the recommended section I think I might give this a listen right now

edit: just read the review, another great one

Bitchfork
July 7th 2010


7584 Comments


revu's ghey

klap
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2010


10499 Comments


there he is

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Bitchfork
July 7th 2010


7584 Comments


ya hear i m

Ponton
Emeritus
July 7th 2010


5804 Comments


thanks rom, i think you'd like this, though it has that sufjan quality to it
which I know isn't your thing

hey austin and rudy

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2010


31375 Comments


and naked we shall we return

Nice, probably not my thing though

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

Ponton
Emeritus
July 7th 2010


5804 Comments


Thanks for reading, much appreciated

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2010


31375 Comments


I always have time for a Ponton review

Bitchfork
July 7th 2010


7584 Comments


i didn't even offer advice but I can rewrite it in a comment for you if you'd prefer!

Romulus
July 7th 2010


8443 Comments


Gave this a quick listen and thought it was good, I'll have to return to it more. You're right though, it does give off a more minimalistic Sufjan Stevens vibe. Your review pretty much nails it.

Ponton
Emeritus
July 7th 2010


5804 Comments


i didn't even offer advice but I can rewrite it in a comment for you if you'd prefer!


No, thanks though, but im pretty sure this is my last review so it doesn't matter. cheers guys, life issues suck..

Bitchfork
July 7th 2010


7584 Comments


why is that?

Bitchfork
July 7th 2010


7584 Comments


i mean the last review.

AggravatedYeti
July 8th 2010


7685 Comments


oh this is not your last review.
hush.

Ponton
Emeritus
July 8th 2010


5804 Comments


not sure what ill do tbh

AggravatedYeti
July 9th 2010


7685 Comments


review another album?

Bitchfork
July 9th 2010


7584 Comments


what happened, exactly? is this like sputnik news

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
July 19th 2010


7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

will check this out jared

jeremologyy
September 29th 2010


269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so simple and so beautiful.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy