For his second album as Perfume Genius, Seattle's Michael Hadreas adds a twist of confidence to the bare-bones, piano-and-reverb approach of his lovely debut, Learning. That's not to say he's ditching his delicate template, no matter what that Prince-meets-Ice Cube title suggests – the intriguing touches that make this album sing are more subtle, less showy, and reveal themselves on repeated listens. He adds creepy layers of deeper octaves to the hook of No Tear, indulges a distinctly poplike climax in Hood, and tells a remarkable tale of romance in the standout song Take Me Home: "I run my mouth like a fool/ I'll be so quiet for you … be like a shadow of a shadow of a shadow for you." For all the beauty in these woozy, damaged choral songs, the sense that he's still just about sticking to a formula frustrates any greater ambition. But the development from his first album is obvious and impressive; his third record should be a stunner.
Perfume Genius: Put Your Back N 2 It – review
Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for the Observer and the Guardian