So much about being an artist is sharing your feelings and sentiments to the world and hoping it all sounds genuine. Often, we’re jaded by musicians who attempt to understand the real world and mundane lives during the grime, when the musician has no idea what is happening – let alone how much a gallon of gas costs. That isn’t the case so much with more underground and independent musicians as most artists make music around and after their daytime job, adjusting and re-adjusting to family, friends and money, while trying to take hold of ambitions. Nonetheless, for musician and songwriter Mike Hadreas, music is about enveloping all of your emotions and sharing them for all to enjoy. As Perfume Genius, he’s developed a strong second album with Put Your Back N 2 It, a modestly personal release.
Sure, some people get annoyed when someone like Chris Martin tries to share advice on global warming, the environment or even relationships through his music (the man has a beautiful family with an amazing actress and his band happens to be pretty HUGE at the moment) because it just sounds, well, fake. Seattle songwriter Hadreas takes his music and realizes that although everyone’s life is different, we all share common struggles, trials and tribulations. The music on this second album channels songwriters like Cat Power and Bon Iver through the music’s pensive and emotional feel. Songs like “Take Me Home” ask for someone to ‘lay him down easy,’ after a rough outing and, although the solace and comfort of home is universal (it’s the difference in returning to a house or a home), the rousing piano is a clockwork stomp. There’s a sincere feeling throughout, allowing the songs to feel refreshed and understated.
Hadreas does come right out and admit, “I want to make music that’s honest and hopeful,” and there’s a rich genuine character on all of the songs on Put Your Back N 2 It. The slow pull of “All Waters” gives way to a rolling array of sounds that encompass Hadreas’ voice in a nest of sublime sounds. The song is affectively moving and the gradual drive embarks a subtle force of sound. Hadreas is asking to hold his companion close to him and through feelings of love, family, life and overall hope, the message is clear: always move forward. “Normal Song” bends a relaxed guitar introduction and blends it with a story on the everyday problems in one’s life. Here the normality is not so much in the song’s method; moreso Hadreas documents a normal song to have in case we need a ‘picker-upper.’ There are shades of both darkness and light but with the focus always being on optimism, there’s always a calming sense.
You don’t need to be a starving artist to come off as being real, either. But there’s a novelty lost in the way musicians seem to be out of touch with the current frame of mind. Real-life comedians like Louis CK detail how complicated it is being a comedian living in New York with his two daughters and how it’s somewhat confusing, albeit challenging. Who knows whether Hadreas even attempts all of this when making music; perhaps, the sole goal is the outcome and eventual fruition. One thing’s for sure, whether it’s the former or latter, Put Your Back N 2 It is a strong follow-up with very little doubt – it’s all hope.
“All Waters” by Perfume Genius