top of page
  • Writer's pictureMario

The Lobby | PERFUME GENIUS - PUT YOUR BACK N 2 IT (2012)



The listener embarks upon being strangled with the emotions portrayed with Perfume Genius’s second outing, Put Your Back N 2 It (2012, Turnstile) where the piano, ambience, and voice reign supreme. Hadreas continues to aspire towards his own desperation, his own search to find a place with no sense of time or name, where his music can emit its many waves of melodramatic jargons and softly spit but rarely shallow passages.


The depressive piano of AWOL Marine sets the scene of the album as Hadreas begins his soft and celestial vocals, the ambience building in the background like a collage of memories all transpiring in a matter of short moments. It cuts itself off by the sobering wake of Normal Song, simply set with acoustic guitar and shattered vocals before the piano is allowed the privilege of splattering its paint all over the song’s sparse canvas. It perpetuates as a malleable sadness as if to be implanted into one’s psyche beforehand, as Hadreas continues to incite devastation using fragile backing vocals here and there. However, the song could be a bit longer in order to further nail its psychological effects inward to the head.


No Tear experiences a change in the sound of Hadreas’s voice, a slightly marred production that isn’t necessarily beneficial. It is, on the other hand, more grandiose than the previous songs as the piano begins to assert itself as a rudimentary factor to the album’s depressive melodrama. Hadreas begins to assume the slow but volatile whisper found from vocalists like Sufjan Stevens to the ever more bipolar performances of Jamie Stewart. 17 introduces string arrangements to the album, and an ever resounding drum occasionally pounding in rare intervals as if it is an elephant’s footstep, or the throb of oncoming apocalypse. The strings continue playing their ever so dissonant birdsongs within the background as they complement the end of the song, supplying the most lasting effect of any song up to that point.


The borderline piano-rock of Take Me Home is not emotionally compromised by the newfound percussion consistency. Among the busiest songs of the album, it is then manipulated by occasional indie-pop cliches as a result of this newfound business. Although the vision of the self-armageddon remains intact, the manifestation of loneliness within every broken bell’s ring, and the everlasting turmoils within orientation, fog begins emanating in the distance.


Dirge prioritizes the synergy of Hadreas, the piano, and the faint and resounding guitar that tethers along the soundscapes like a supermassive feather. Hadreas navigates the piece to its own auditory nimbus, innocent but not necessarily safe. As if choking on his own breath, he holds up this nimbus with fragile hands, tears having eroded away the bearings of each finger, like holed-out pillars within ancient buildings impossibly standing. The studio creaking is audible, continuing to contribute to the atmosphere.


Dark Parts structures its piano in a way where it begins to feel like a corporate motivation video. Where Hadreas’s voice is mildly softened artistically, the piano’s greatest attributes vanish into wind - not exactly a victim of the album conceptually in being a happiness vanishing from sight, but rather as a detriment to the song itself. The song itself remains held by the pulse of its dynamics.


Deep and dampened, synths clamped by the moisture of the rocky abandoned walls around it open up All Waters as nature begins reclaiming the song, a rare greenery in the midst of Hadreas’s grayscale psychosomatic lurch. It ranks as one of the album’s most melodramatic songs, synths and vocals akin to an Antlers piece, the textures and drums painting a scenery only constructed from the remnants of the neoclassical new age, the piece transformed into an ever ephemeral spectacle.


Once more, a tender play between piano and vocals opens up a song, this time with Hood. The piano begins feeling more robotic the more confidence it acquires, occasionally overpowering the vocals. The drums kick the song into a suave sequence of deep but commercial rumination. It is Hadreas taking on the guise of a demo-tape Adele.


The title track Put Your Back N2 It disciplines the piano, the vocals now allowed the privilege of more space. The synthesizers mildly assist in the song’s own process, its own equation of sadness. Hadreas enthuses and infuses the song in a phantasmic sense, ghastly presences granted entry into each note, as if survivors of many tragedies inhabit this very song in search of their own peace.


Suppressed drums that would be in full force in any other genre grant Hadreas a newfound dimension of tenderness within Floating Spit, the isolation of the album now reeking into a lost reverberation, a departed memory translated into the indie-pop cranium. This song rarely finds interest in painting itself as beautiful, instead creating the malaise of an empty conservatory within the dead of night, a light hidden deep in the woods where a faint dance between ghosts is audible. Sister Song paints us a closer look as the piano takes on a new production approach, and the voice follows suit. The song adds the last few shadows to complete the emotional breakdown and ever apocalyptic grievances to be discovered in this album. It reminisces in the structure of a lullaby before taking its last dying breath through a faint and guttural ambience, as if a troubled and ill-ridden heartbeat.


This heartbeat is the one that Put Your Back N 2 It follows by, its sole clause. The instrumentation persists as resourceful, but occasionally to the sacrificial whims of a painlessly commercial sound, counteracting the infinitely painful subtexts the album self-destructs towards. The album is like a detonation of dynamite deep underwater, creating this small and fleeting bubble that pushes away the water, forming a space with nothing but air, right before the ocean reclaims the area as quickly as it was conceived. The explosion, the energy is all there, with the sound to help fuel its own surrender, fragile and ephemeral, more short-lived than a sand castle in a tsunami. Yet the album allows itself the permission to indulge in such inconsequence, it permits a decay to the artistic benefit of Hadreas.


Score: 7/10.

Trajectory of listens past the first: neutral.

Written on 1/30/2022, 7:20 PM - 8:04 PM.


-Mario

Comments


bottom of page