Album Review: Perfume Genius ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’
Rehabilitation is a word that scares most. It suggests that a problem exists that most are unwilling to face. The pains of life become easier to handle as addicts cover credible moments with falsified feelings of hope. While addiction regularly pairs itself with drugs or alcohol, a deeper dependence can be found in the current and former relationships that we commit to. Independence is intricate. We rely on others to exist because it provides comfort. When relationships vanish we become dependent on memories that offer anecdotal doses of hope. Seattle songwriter, Mike Hadreas dedicates his sophomore album Put Your Back N 2 It to relationships, both new and old. From friends to family the Perfume Genius project is a means for Hadreas to subtly share his intimate feelings with his listeners. This is a recording that produces thought while slightly opening the closing door to therapy.
Perfume Genius was introduced to me in 2010 with release Learning. My first impression of Hadreas was that he was a complicated and dejected individual. His songs were powerful, but sad. I could not listen to the album regularly because of its tone. I always thought twice before I hit play, asking myself “are you sure you are ready for this today?” It was not until a month after the release of Put Your Back N 2 It that I realized the effect that Hadreas’ music had on me. I tend to turn down songs of his nature because they produce unwanted emotion. Denying feeling displays weakness. Although difficult to admit, this release offers listeners the opportunity to eliminate infatuation and accept the authentic.
The songs sing like hymns from start to finish. Opening track, “Awol Marine” begins with slow notes from Hadreas piano. While not religious, this sounds like Hadreas tryout as a deity displaying desire. Hadreas tells someone to “turn toward the camera”. Using a photo or video to stop a moment in time suggests Hadreas’ unwillingness to forget. The placement of an object, such as, a camera at the beginning of this record proves brilliant upon my own reflection. This record is very much a visual depiction of a vivid story through music. Not since the Antlers release of ‘Hospice’ can I remember a record that comes to life so easily for me as the listener.
My favorite song on this record is “Dark Parts”. This song displays a stronger side of Perfume Genius as he appears in control offering instead of asking for support. The song ends with Hadreas displaying affection by saying, “I will take the dark part of your heart into my heart”. This song is about family and that is why I can appreciate it. While Hadreas displays himself as a vulnerable human in a majority of his work, this song shows his ability to be strong when important people around him yearn for support.
A return to the weakness of Perfume Genius is found in song “Hood”. This track is about being someone that we are not for someone else. As previously stated, independence is intricate. Oftentimes, it is easier fake it on the outside to hide that we are on the inside. Hadreas shows a subtle strength by his willingness to admit his denial by saying, “I am scared baby, that I can’t keep it up for long”. This song is an intimate addiction and lust to feel good in the moment. Continuing down this path only pushes back the timeline to recovery. This song proves to be Hadreas moment of identifying his addiction to the relationship that he holds with others. Acceptance always proves itself as the hardest step to recovery and Hadreas openly offers this up to his listeners
Hadreas might come off frail to the listener with the first spin of Put Your Back N 2 It. It took me over a month to write about it because I just could not piece it all together. The end result was a month of listening and a month of my own interpretation. This record pushed my thought harder than any in recent memory. I learned a lot about myself as I close the door on a year of living by myself. While my new independence proves its value I quickly begin to realize the comfort of having others around. This record could not have resonated at a better time.
Written by Brett McGrath