Review: Perfume Genius' Goth-Glam Gets Optimistic on 'No Shape'

Our take on the indie-popper's fourth LP

Perfume Genius' latest album is 'No Shape.'

Mike Hadreas' goth-glam songs of longing uncoil like someone who's waited a long goddamn time for things to go right; when they finally rise to a crescendo, the release is thrillingly palpable. They do this often on his fourth Perfume Genius LP, which by his standards feels startlingly optimistic, with pop and rock tropes queered into dreamlike scenarios. "Go Ahead" conjures "Kiss"-era Prince and mid-Sixties Dionne Warwick ("say a little prayer for me/Baby") over dyspeptic electro-funk. "Die 4 You" is goth Sade, while the darkly ecstatic "Wreath" invokes Kate Bush ("Running up that hill/I'm gonna peel off every weight") over harpsichord gilt. And who knew dude had a penchant for yodeling?

Producer Blake Mills brings myriad guitar sounds to the keyboard-centered affair, and Rob Moose does the same with strings – check his fiercely spiraling violin on "Choir," which suggests a whole realm of sound Hadreas might fruitfully explore. On "Sides," with Mills' rusted guitar tones clattering like something dragged from Tom Waits' junkyard, Hadreas duets with art-pop auteur Weyes Blood. For all the power of his rapturously forlorn persona, it turns out Hadreas sounds better with company. Even more striking: satisfaction kinda becomes him. "Alan," the album's brooding denouement, is startled by its own happy ending. "Everything is alright ... How weird!" Hadreas hollers. Good news can seem like that, sometimes.