Perfume Genius - No Shape (Matador Records)
LP / CD /DL
Review by Amy.
Matador are synonymous with interesting music - a quick look through their roster (past and present) quickly reveals their love of any band/artist that is 'different' musically, and that challenge perceptions of how things 'should' sound as well as the structural forms that songs should take - they don't subscribe to the norm and Perfume Genius is a prime example of this. 'No Shape' is the follow up to 2014's successful 'Too Bright', and in a way the title is almost a summation of the music on this album, and by that I mean, Mike doesn't just stick to one formula or genre - this is by far a much more adventurous release than its predecessors.
Overall, 'No Shape' is an ornate, sensual and honest affair, there are nods to Rufus Wainwright, Queen, Kate Bush and even contemporaries Tegan and Sara on occasion. There is a fragility to Hadreas' voice that is only emboldened by the to and fro of sparse minimalist instrumentation one minute to the decadent luxurious arrangements the next. This is Chamber Pop at its best, never too extravagant, never too sparse - the balance here is almost perfection. Things don't get too complicated or overbearing, instead Mike uses atmosphere and texture to get his point across, don't get me wrong - this is an emotionally challenging album. Perfume Genius could've quite easily built on 'Too Bright' and delivered an even more saccharine collection of songs that would've probably gained him more commercial success, however, 'No Shape' delivers a left-hook that smacks you straight between the eyes with tenderness and purity.
Standout tracks are 'Wreath', 'Sides' and 'Braid', the former is a dark almost tragic sounding track than the rest, 'Sides' glamorously stomps in and also features Weyes Blood whose vocals really do compliment Hadreas', 'Braid' will then cover you head to toe in goose bumps. The final track 'Alan' is a majestic tribute to Mike's partner and is a perfect denouement.
For me 'Wreath' is where the album really begins to take shape (no pun intended), each track builds on the other to delicately punch you in the gut while ripping your heart out placing it on a velvet cushion while you gratefully thank him for taking it from you.
This album will leave you feeling like you've added 'something' to yourself, it's certainly an album that requests you spend time with it so you can fully digest all the intricacies. To sum up, this is a devastatingly beautiful, and stunning body of work.