Robin Hilton via NPR
Mike Hadreas is a slight, soft-spoken soul from Seattle who's built his career on a bed of beautiful little songs meant to showcase his delicate tenor and intimate poetry more than any soaring production. But on Too Bright, his third full-length as Perfume Genius, Hadreas seems to say he's had enough and won't be taking your guff anymore. It's a fearless, often-angry assault from the singer as he takes on gender stereotypes, bigotry, suicide and homicide, various forms of self-loathing, lying, cheating and his overall disillusionment with the state of the world. There are still plenty of musical moments that tremble with breathtaking beauty on this record ("I Decline," "Don't Let Them In," and the title track in particular). But check out the anguished wailing in "Grid," the massive punch-in-the-face of "Queen" or the dark and sultry grit of "My Body." Too Bright is a bold arrival from an artist who, until now, seemed content to keep it quiet, but, apparently, was just waiting for his moment to strike.