Monday, December 13, 2010

Learning, Perfume Ghosts

The lyrics of Perfume Genius' Mike Hadreas fall somewhere between Xiu Xiu and Dennis Cooper. There is an angst. An uncomfortable silence. A disturbed bit of truth to the songs off of Learning. Hadreas wrote the album in response to a break up. This was his way of dealing with the pain. The album was meant more as a personal journey. An album to share with his friends. I'm not sure how many of these facts are truth. How does such a private, personal diary as song become released? The truth is somewhere within the fiction. And this may very much be the case with the lyrics as well.

The standout track on the album is 'Mr. Peterson' a disturbing revelation about what may have been an inappropriate relationship with a teacher: "he let me smoke weed in his truck, if I could convince him I loved him enough/ he made me a tape of joy division, he told me there was part of him missing." The voice is delivered in such a pitch I am reminded of the saddest songs of a Sufjan Stevens album. But those lyrics are so painfully beautiful and experienced. I could only wish to write such lines.

The following song, 'Gay Angels,' is a beautiful hymnal of sorts. As close as hymn as an album dealing with addiction, abuse, and heart break will allow.

The honesty of this album. The raw, naked vocals and instrumentation. The high voice. All of these elements remind me so much of The Mountain Goats masterpiece The Sunset Tree. The mood is dark and heavy. A very short album, slightly over 30 minutes, rips through you like a haunted memory of your past. Before you know you've been hit, you've been knocked to your ass.

I have been listening to this album on and off for the past few months. Not quite sure how to review or comment on the tracks. This is such a personal experience I don't know if it can be anything more than the relationship of the songwriter and the memory the song blooms from. But, that is so dismissive of art as an ability to make us think and experience that which we haven't experienced. What if you have experienced some of these pains? How do you make an opinion on the way others cope with their past? Luckily, after all this time, I've found this album has grown on me. And I don't feel like I'm brushing off the history of these songs.


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