Perfume Genius
No Shape


4.5
superb

Review

by butcherboy USER (32 Reviews)
May 7th, 2017 | 246 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it...

To call Mike Hadreas a conceptual artist is to do a disservice to a man who is simply an incredibly adroit and deliberate storyteller. His last trio of albums has seen him conjure and shape an auto-biographical figure. A man prone to addled darkness, wrestling with sexual identity and sexuality itself. A bruised man of bitter grievances. A man on fire. No Shape’s cover art reveals the next tier in Perfume Genius’ thematic arc; from a lanky, awkward, half-obscured boy, to a young self-assured man cut from gilt sinew, to that same man, exposed, reeling and stumbling, clothes ripped and askew, made as weakened and humane as the rest of us.

The issue with an overtly pointed concept is that over the course of a full-length, it can easily tumble into oversaturation and an artist belabouring a point. But Hadreas manages to skirt these boundaries with ease and without seeming like he’s laying it on too thick. If 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It was him coming to grips with his id, and 2014’s Too Bright was his statement of flourishing within its ranks, No Shape is a tender and beatific relay of how wonderful and wrenching love is once you get there. It serves Hadreas well, making No Shape less insular and more relatable on a primal level. At its heart, No Shape is an album about feeling ***ed over by romance.

Blake Mils handles production duties here and his electro-folk touch sits all over the album. It makes No Shape’s more upbeat aspects carry less rough edges than what Adrian Utley and John Parish brought to Too Bright’s louder bursts. And while No Shape is certainly less of a declarative edict than its predecessor, that softened homogeny renders dancier tracks like Slip Away and Wreath more toneless than even the album’s thematic depressiveness calls for. Mind you, these are small gripes to have with a record that hands you one breathtaking hymn of exalted melancholy after another.

Go Ahead rides a dense, twitchy bass-line fleshed out with funk-tinged guitar licks and synthetic jerks that bring to mind D’Angelo’s arrangements on Black Messiah. Die 4 You is similarly RnB-tinctured. Hadreas’ voice sits well in this frame, never collapsing into maudlin desolation or pop pandering, but rather carving the sort of autumnal dysphoria that makes you walk for miles at night, just you and some earphones and a heavy heart.

The most poignant, heart-rending moments on No Shape are still ones where Hadreas forgoes heady instrumentation for a more skeletal song structure, letting his fractured confessionals come to the forefront. He deftly navigates Valley’s measured acoustic strums before the song implodes in celestial ambience, and Every Night’s spare atmospherics and lulling violins form an idyllic minimalist backdrop for his plea of “Sister, let me in.”

Choir’s dizzying opening salvo of strings is pulsing with anxiety. Hadreas’ voice truly is a marvel, half-speaking hushed couplets before rising to gauzy heights. It encloses around the song, delicate and unsettling at once. The piece peters out abruptly without the hair-rising crescendo it’s seemingly building towards, leaving the listener feeling utterly hollowed-out. It’s such a masochistic, guttering feeling that you almost feel relieved when Die 4 You ushers in to interrupt it a few seconds later. Yet for all its dejected tendencies, it’s strange how euphoric and rapt No Shape makes you feel. One can hardly tell if it’s due to Hadreas’ intention, or simply because a stellar piece of music can make all existence seem briefly limitless.

Closer Alan comes on like a muted roar, Hadreas warbling:

Did you notice?
We sleep through the night
Did you notice, babe?
Everything is alright


Alan’s refrain of “You need me. I’m here” mercifully offers both Hadreas and the listener an instant of contented peace. After the subdued havoc of Put Your Back N 2 It, and the assertive clamour of Bright, it’s nice to see Perfume Genius come into his persona and delve deeper into heartbreak and love’s infinite. After spending so long in a troubled state, he deserves a short reprieve.



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user ratings (101)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i feel all fucked up after listening to this barrage of beauty..



streaming here

https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/05/perfume-genius-unveils-new-album-no-shape-stream-download/

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 7th 2017


23572 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Nice one. I need to hear this...it was second on my list for this week after Afghan Whigs, but it sounds like this might be even better. Haven't heard anything by the artist before, but the singles leading up to this were killer.

Digging: Blink-182 - California (Deluxe Edition)

theBoneyKing
May 7th 2017


9359 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gonna check this out right now... Stoked, love me some Blake Mills production.

Digging: Chris Stapleton - From A Room: Volume 1

dreamgauze
May 7th 2017


876 Comments


nice Black Messiah shoutout

Digging: Jonathan Coulton - Artificial Heart

butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers, sowing.. this album is just agonizingly heartbreaking.. fuck..

theBoneyKing
May 7th 2017


9359 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review btw butcher.



This is good so far, not loving the guy's vocals though.

butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks very much Boney.. his voice is pretty singular, definitely a bit of an acquired taste.. if you put this one on, on an evening you feel particularly fucked up, I guarantee it will click.. haha

NorthernSkylark
May 7th 2017


8526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Click !

Digging: Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

Divaman
May 7th 2017


839 Comments


Not familiar with the artist. Nice job.

butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh Diva, you're going to fucking love this guy..

Asdfp277
May 7th 2017


14004 Comments


is thsi good? question

butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yes it is. answer

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2017


12791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

damn you're a really good writer man, no matter what style ya choose (;



might check this, tags seem cool

Digging: Atalanta - Tainted

plane
Emeritus
May 7th 2017


6596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is a fantastic review for a fantastic album. Everything Is Good this year, but this is transformative.

Digging: Geotic - Abysma

AsleepInTheBack
May 7th 2017


3518 Comments


stunning review. will check

butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks very much, everyone! Really appreciate it.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2017


12791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

first song in and the mixing is incredible wow. when the piano started playing I turned around thinking someone started playing piano behind me hahah

AmericanFlagAsh
May 7th 2017


8216 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thank you this was beautiful

Digging: Perfume Genius - No Shape

butcherboy
May 7th 2017


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Con - hahahaha, wait until the violins on Choir start going.. You'll feel like someone is sawing your heart strings..



FlagAsh - thanks, dude! unless you were talking to hadreas.. haha



oh, and thank you for the feature!!

theBoneyKing
May 7th 2017


9359 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm hoping this brings Blake Mills to more people's attention, he has a great ear for production.



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