Has it really been six years since Begin To Hope came out and launched Regina Spektor‘s career into the stratosphere? I really liked that album when it came out, but after a while it became too much. Somehow a bunch of executives got together and decided to use her songs in every prime time soap, teen melodrama, and romantic comedy trailer. By late 2007 or early 2008, my interest in Spektor had waned to near zero. In 2009 she released the album Far, and I listened to it maybe three times before tossing it aside. It just didn’t catch me the way Begin did. Yesterday she released her newest album, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. While I don’t love every song, she seems to be back on the right track.
Somehow Perfume Genius has managed to fly under the radar even after garnering critical praise for the new album. It has been a horrendous oversight on my part to not bring attention to this earlier. Unfortunately, the only person I ever saw make a comment about the album was Will Sheff of Okkervil River, who tweeted about how great Put Your Back N 2 It is. That was about a month ago, and it took me this long to get around to picking up a copy. Now that I have, I feel like the last month of my life has been wasted on listening to things that aren’t Perfume Genius. Mike Hadreas has crafted such a beautiful and timeless collection of songs that I find it almost impossible to put into words how highly I recommend getting yourself a copy. So, the following will be a bit of chat about it, and a couple videos so you can hear it for yourself.
It’s amazing what a person with just a piano, a voice, and a computer can accomplish these days. Anyone who thinks music isn’t as good as it used to be has obviously been avoiding the DIY renaissance we are currently experiencing. Bands and artists everywhere are crafting great songs that you sometimes have to dig around for, but when you find them it can be world changing. Perfume Genius is such an artist, and his second album got picked up by Matador Records for a big release which happened February 21. That means for the past three weeks you probably haven’t been listening to one of the best albums of the year.
Hadreas has said “I spent my whole life hiding from the things that happened to me, to my family and friends. The entirety of all these experiences: abuse, addiction, suicide…all that cool stuff. I couldn’t bear to look at it”. Now recording under the name Perfume Genius, Hadreas finally spills out all those thoughts and emotions. Not to say that he’s the only person who has an experience like this, but it’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone do it better.
I do have a personal favorite on the album, and that is the song “Hood.” It’s ridiculous how much a song can do in two minutes. This is one of the few songs on Put Your Back N 2 It that really has a driving beat to it, which helps it stand out. Really it’s the lyrics that push it over the top for me:
You would never call me baby
If you knew me truly
Oh, but I waited so long for your love
I am scared baby that I can’t keep it up for long
Those words, combined with the way they are sung and the backing piano track create some seriously heartbreaking moments.
The songs on this album are so elegant and intimate that they really do speak for themselves. I doubt there’s anything I could say that would make you like them any more, so I won’t bother wasting any more of our time. Buy this record.