Review Summary: The difficult second album was too much. Serviceable, but severely lacking inspiration or ambition.
There must be something morally wrong with the artistic world when we line up, in the internet sense of the word, for the next emotionally distraught musician. Mostly in an attempt to preempt the next Age of Adz
or Electro-Shock Blues
, it has to be said, but it's true that when an artist has had some horrible experiences we can hope for a good album that draws inspiration from them. Perfume Genius
, the recording name of one Mike Hadreas, promised just this; delivering a heartfelt, if a little naive and hamfisted debut back in 2010. Fast forward to the present and Put Your Back N 2 It
addresses these issues, though something has been forgotten in the process.
Simply put, Perfume Genius
has lost his way. He even admitted this, albeit indirectly, with his confession that this album will take a less personal tone, instead choosing to focus on general hardships. The shift in focus is immediately obvious: Hadreas crones his way through plenty of piano/acoustic ballads, but oftentimes they fall far short of the mark. The recurring line in Dirge
of "Do your weeping now"
is a prime example, it lacks the direction and context to actually mean much. In fact a large chunk of the album remains slightly baffling; it's evident that emotion is there but it fails to connect.
For the most part, this can be put down to a lack of any unique style. Put Your Back N 2 It
relies too heavily on bedroom-project indie archetypes: it's all a little bit cutesy and predictable, with lyrical subject matter varying on the slim scale between isolation and romantic interests. Musically, too, there is little variation. Liberal use of piano, synths and guitar are to be expected and they rarely develop beyond slow chord progressions. Some flair is shown, however, in the casual swagger of Take Me Home
and the haze of Awol Marine
, but in the end these only serve to highlight just how dull the rest of the LP can get.
It's seems, then, that Perfume Genius
is spent. In the absence of his personal grief, his music fails to be interesting and with a run time of under 25 minutes, this release bears all the signs of being rushed. I'm sure the title, Put Your Back N 2 It
, was supposed to be outwardly directed, but to me it symbolises the fact that for Hadreas this record had to be forced out. On listening to the album it certainly appears as much.