Perfume Genius – Ugly Season
It was never going to be easy for Mike Hadreas to match the magic of Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. Released in 2020, it further positioned Perfume Genius as one of the most exciting artists pushing boundaries in art-pop. Instead of trying to recreate the mood of that LP, Hadreas fearlessly dismantled his musical sensibilities, piecing them back together to make a much broader and vivid body of work with Ugly Season.
Working once again with producer Blake Mills – with whom he has had an extremely fruitful collaborative relationship stemming back to 2017’s excellent No Shape – and his partner Alan Wyffels, Ugly Season amplifies the unbridled energy and experimentation of form that elevates Perfume Genius’ output above his contemporaries.
These ten songs were originally written to accompany a dance piece entitled The Sun Still Burns Here choreographed by Kate Wallich. These unabashedly abstract arrangements heard outside of its original context may be jarring or even a little intimidating. Not knowing what to expect, however, makes for an extremely exhilarating listening experience.
From the moment Ugly Season descends on fresh ears, its immediacy cannot be denied. Just a Room and Herem carry through Hadreas’ unrushed approach to world building which is excellently achieved across the record. And while Ugly Season takes Hadreas’ Perfume Genius further into the avant-garde corners of pop, there are plenty of accessible compositions here to savour. With his sixth LP, Perfume Genius has delivered yet another mesmerising artistic turn.
Words: Zara Hedderman