Written by Leo Baldi
The latest studio effort from Mike Hadreas, No Shape, just came out and it’s a classy masterpiece.
Hadreas released No Shape three years after his acclaimed third album, Too Bright, which produced the iconic single Queen, along with its boundary-pushing video. For this album however Hadreas has changed direction: from the up-in-your-face transgressive art of its predecessor to reflect a more subtle and tranquil musicality. Even the cover art of the album seems to be more personal and calmer than Too Bright, with Perfume Genius not facing the camera while being portrayed on this Reinassance-like painting.
The album utilises more minimalistic beats and almost over-produced strings and instrumentation. The effect produced is a regal sound that much reminisces of 17th-18th century aristocratic atmospheres. The melodies and instrumental lines feel effortless and complex at the same time, offering a very intricate companion to Hadreas’ signature breathy vocal delivery. Needless to say that the production on No Shape is simply wonderful. Slip Away, first single released from the album, was emblematic of this production-driven masterpiece. Just Like Love, Wreath and Die 4 You are all standout tracks that feel like a breath of fresh air in the noise of the music industry.
The references on the album seem to be clear from just listening to it: Kate Bush is referenced a couple times, especially on the haunting Choir, that, I think, pays homage to Waking The Witch by Bush. The heavy use of strings also generally reminds me of the Hounds of Love album, and I really appreciate it.
From a vocal standpoint some people have indicated Prince as one of the inspirations between the masterpiece, and some will also certainly notice that the title Die 4 You could also be seen as a homage to I Would Die 4 U by Prince. Speculations aside, Hadreas knows what he is doing and he proved it once again on No Shape.
Perfume Genius created a classy and artful album, one that will, no doubt, figure in many best-of-the-year lists for 2017. Up to now, it will definitely appear in mine. Everybody has to appreciate a lesson in the history of art and music that is as lyrical as No Shape. Stunning.
You can listen to Slip Away here.
Credit: Perfume Genius