Mike Hadreas, who records as Perfume Genius, knows how to push buttons. His second album, Put Your Back N 2 It, includes songs about gay sex, suicide, prostitutes, and DIY porn, and an ad for the record was rejected by YouTube for being too gay, prompting supporters like Michael Stipe to rally behind him. Hadreas makes good on the controversy by beefing up the sound on his second album, a richer LP than 2010's Seattle-bedroom-demos collection Learning. Over spare piano notes and mournful strings, the opening "AWOL Marine" depicts a sad, desperate life after wartime. Things don't really look up. Even "Normal Song" isn't so normal: Acoustic guitar brushes against Hadreas' whispers about dark hearts and poisonous secrets. And the haunting, fragile echoes of "All Waters" run deep into Perfume Genius' solemn intimacy.
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