First sight: Perfume Genius

A 26-year-old bedroom balladeer known as Mike Genius

Who is he?

A 26-year-old bedroom balladeer known as Mike Genius, whose ­intimate, ­crackle-laden piano pieces sound like Anthony Hegarty getting a glo-fi ­makeover. As far as trivia is ­concerned: he lives with his mum in Seattle, was championed early on by Los ­Campesinos! and likes to appear in press shots ­covered in colourful bruises ­(because he's not just damaged inside).

Sound's interesting, but I don't seem to be able to hear anything!

Try turning the volume up. Perfume Genius songs are so frail they're barely audible. It doesn't help that Genius's ­vocal style is so fractured it makes Wayne Coyne sound like he's auditioning for a gig with Extreme Noise Terror.

That's better. So what's he singing about?

Smalltown tales for outsiders, mainly, often with a dark undertow. Look Out, Look Out comes with the ominous warning "there's murders about", and then there's Mr Petersen, which is released by Transparent this month. That song documents the inappropriate relationship between a young boy and a troubled older man. As stop-them-dead lyric writing goes, you'll be hard pushed to find anything more direct than: "He made me a tape of Joy ­Division/ He told me there was part of him ­missing/ When I was 16/ he jumped off a ­building." In the space of a verse, Genius has sketched the most sympathetic, ­human portrait of a paedophile since the ­character of Bill Maplewood in Todd Solondz's Happiness.

Where can I hear more?

Visit for music and some suitably strange (but really quite beautiful) homemade videos.

Tim Jonze


Tim Jonze

The GuardianTramp

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