Wednesday 1 July 2020
Experimental pop from tortured soul

“No family’s safe when I sashay,” sang Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius on the powerful song “Queen”. A fabulous and hilarious rebuttal to anyone panicking that gay-themed art will somehow undermine heterosexual families.

But let’s focus on sashay detail because that’s the current link here. Perfume Genius has become a dancer. He has teamed up a choreographer and a dance company for a performance called The Sun Still Burns Here which has played in several theatres and art centres in the US last year. It turns the ongoing themes in Hadreas’ music into a modern-dance piece that loosely positions belonging as a potential antidote to pain.

The performance includes 10 new Perfume Genius songs, including recently released “Eye in the Wall” and “Pop Song”.

That calls for a new album, doesn’t it? It also calls for new concerts, and Perfume Genius is ready for his third concert at Roskilde Festival.

Perfume Genius concerts are always emotional wringers. While working his body like a sinuous gyre on stage, he sings songs up and down the emotional spectrum. Both the big synth-ladden pop songs and piano ballads where he sits intimately at the keys belting out tear-jerking songs. Whenever Hadreas sings, he twists his face as if every word has to force its way out of his small frame. It’s that intense!

Perfume Genius started making music as pairings of unflinching lyrics and simple piano melodies (2010’s Learning and 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It). He later developed on his expression, making 2014’s ferocious Too Bright, and 2016’s gospel and soul-tinged No Shape. It’s also worth seeking out some of his cover songs of, for instance, Elvis Presley and The Grateful Dead. He takes those love songs and sprinkles some Perfume on them, thereby making them his own.

Perfume Genius is someone you need to see live (as often as you can), and now you have the chance at Roskilde Festival 2020.