Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It

Mike Hadreas (aka Perfume Genius) released one of the most hauntingly beautiful albums of 2012 with Put Your Back N 2 It. On this follow up to his hugely acclaimed low-fi debut Learning, Hadreas explores some very dark themes; there is a deep well of pain to be found in these songs, but he delivers in a way that never feels forced, maudlin, or self pitying. The music is brutally sparse, and with all twelve songs clocking in at three minutes or under, this is an album that leaves you longing for more of its sweet sadness. Not a single moment or note is wasted – so many albums feel  bloated, overcooked  and long outstay their welcome  – Hadreas pares this one back to the bare bones, and it is all the better for it.
Songs like ‘Hood’, ‘All Waters’ and ‘Dark Parts’ emerge from the silence in short, melancholy bursts of naked honesty.  At times it feels almost unbearably intimate as Hadreas lays his soul bare in a manner that calls to mind Elliot Smith, Antony and the Johnsons and Sufjan Stevens at their very best.
His tremulous, fragile voice, simple piano melodies and poetic imagery ensures that this is an album that stays with you long after the last notes have faded away. In a decent year for album releases, it is testament to the power of Put Your Back N 2 It that it remains up there with the very best albums of the year despite being released back in February.  Beautiful sadness never sounded so good.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)