#15 on the 2010 Musical Bacon Calendar
Learning by Perfume Genius
Here we are at the start of the better half of the Musical Bacon Calendar. It’s a good time to discuss an artist that, were you to listen to him as a high school student, your parents would start to worry about your wellbeing. Perfume Genius is not for everyone. But if you have ever been the type of person to like listening to music that is utterly depressing and devoid of happiness, then Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, is here for you.
I’m definitely one of those people. I grew up on the Smiths and the Cure. I know what it’s like to have feelings and emotions and to be confused by them all — we all went through that, right? And while Learning doesn’t (thankfully) take me back to the emotional level of a high schooler, it does have the right kind of melancholy that is the perfect pairing with Seattle’s gloomy winter.
These are not happy songs. They’re Mike Hadreas’s life as a confused, used and abused gay teenager and young adult, presumably all true, put to sparse piano music with echo-chamber microphones. Songs of not being loved, of being the victim of a pedophile, of pain. And it’s all there, out in the open, for you to experience and then judge.
I had the privilege of seeing Perfume Genius perform at the Crocodile back in September, and this is how I described what I saw:
The collection of utterly dour songs takes us on the arc of sadness that is Hadreas’s abusive and abused life while growing up in the Northwest. This rawness is what draws you in, causing you to be taken out of whatever sameness you’re living through today, forcing you to actually feel something.
I’m glad to report if you’re a fan of his album, his live show does not disappoint. I went to this show fully expecting to shed tears by the end of the night — something I don’t think I’ve ever done before at a show. No tears were shed, but if Hadreas had cried, I don’t think there would have been a dry eye in the entire venue.
Perfume Genius was humble, and seemingly emotionally exhausted, but I never felt sorry for him. That’s his magic, right there — he can tell you, in song, all these horrible stories from his past, but all you are left with is the sheer beauty of it all: his singing, his chords, his presence. The perfect end to an unexpectedly perfect evening.
There’s no improving that statement. The songs are magical.
16. Forgiveness Rock Record by Broken Social Scene
17. Expo 86 by Wolf Parade
18. One Life Stand by Hot Chip
19. Big Echo by The Morning Benders
20. Here’s To Taking It Easy by Phosphorescent
21. This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
22. The Mistress by Yellow Ostrich
23. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter
24. Been Listening by Johnny Flynn
25. The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man on Earth
26. Lisbon by The Walkmen
27. Scratch My Back by Peter Gabriel
28. All Day by Girl Talk
29. A Storm – A Tree – My Mother’s Head by Bobby Bare Jr.
30. 03 to TEN by Knathan Ryan
31. In This Light On This Evening by Editors