Perfume Genius, Matteah Baim | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Perfume Genius, Matteah Baim Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Wed., Oct. 1, 9 p.m. 2014
Price: $15
Mike Hadreas, the Seattle singer-songwriter who does business as Perfume Genius, makes a huge leap forward on his third album, Too Bright (Matador), moving from voice and piano to bold full-band arrangements and making braver, more explicit declarations about sexuality. On its standout first single, “Queen,” minimal drums by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish and production by Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley push Hadreas to match his delivery to the intensity of his words—he sings about using the fierceness of a “queen” to push back against the discomfort of people who treat him like a freak. (The line “No family is safe when I sashay” is both a triumphant declaration and a self-consciously silly overstatement.) His beautiful melodies and precise, high-pitched voice have never sounded more assured, and even the noisy and experimental tunes (which have a hint of Suicide about them) retain fragments of the same wounded lyricism that the more conventional ballads have. Hadreas has clearly been influenced by Antony & the Johnsons, but he’s claiming his own ground, with more pop elan and relatively aggressive beats—he embraces his identity, and he comes across realer and more sympathetic as a result.

The elegiac, string-swaddled folk-pop on Matteah Baim’s third album, Falling Theater (Dream Drive), has none of the rough edges of her earlier records. Working with regular Antony collaborator Maxim Moston, the New York-based singer creates lush, slow-moving environments for her weightless songs. On the crawlingly slow bossa nova “Good for Two,” she entreats an object of desire that they belong together, and on “Familiar Way” she meditates on evanescence as she watches a river flowing into the ocean. It’s a wisp of an album, but its beauty makes a deeper, more lasting impression than she ever has before. —Peter Margasak

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