Perfume Genius No Shape Matador
No Shape is Mike Hadreas’ fourth – and arguably greatest – album as Perfume Genius. It sees the Seattle songwriter explore themes of spirituality, religion and intangible deities, across a mesmeric, drifting soundscape which expands robustly and takes new forms. Album opener Otherside is a good indication of what to expect. A sparse piano is initially the only accompaniment to Hadreas’ hazy, layered vocals, but soon an explosion of shimmering keys unleash beautiful aural chaos. Other tracks are similarly addictive; the trippy, beautifully restrained Die 4 You is a clear standout, whereas Just Like Love is arguably the album’s lightest and most uplifting moment, combining orchestral violins and Hadreas’ stunning higher range to brilliant effect. Sides, the only collaboration (with LA-based artist Weyes Blood), is another highlight – softly swelling across five minutes of sonic bliss.
Lyrically, the album explores the musician’s own complicated relationship with religion, as well as the trials of being queer and falling in love against a societal backdrop still stained by inequality and widespread discrimination. “They’ll never break the shape we take,” he sings on lead single Slip Away, “Baby let all them voices slip away”. There’s an assured, urgent message of resistance which bleeds into the album and defines it, and just as Hadreas tells you to shine bright, No Shape glows from within.