If you’re not familiar with Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius, we recommend a spin of Put Ur Back N 2 It before Too Bright. Over the course of his career, Hadreas has evolved into something quite indescribable (but we’re obviously going to try anyway) – alt-pop singer-songwriter with moments of glam, deploying confessional missives full of spunk. In, achem, every sense of the word.
“Don’t you know your queen?” Hadreas sings on his career highlight Queen, jolting like lightning after the piano-driven solitude of I Decline. It’s one of those rare songs that bursts with richness of theme and musicality as Hadreas tackles homophobia from both sides of the camp (so to speak) in searing form – if people are going to fear something, give them something to be afraid of. Hadreas uses stereotypes as a weapon, backed by a menacing drum and militaristic beat for an anthem on owning otherness. Powerful stuff.
Sadly, it’s so powerful that the rest of the album struggles to match its fire. There are some incredible moments here – the interlude in Fool is 100% goosebumpery – but Hadreas quickly retreats to his default introspectiveness. Not necessarily a bad thing given how moving the title track and Don’t Let Me In are, but it’s hard not to feel a little shortchanged.
In that respect, Too Bright feels like an appropriate title on so many levels. There are people who will want to avert their gaze from Perfume Genius’s unflinching message, though it also feels reflective of what any outsider might feel: it soars with that blinding confidence to the public on singles, but behind closed doors it feels just as frail and confused as everyone else.