If anyone can make a tortured lamentation of society’s reluctance to relinquish heteronormativity sound like a lullaby, it’s Perfume Genius. Known by day as Mike Hadreas, Perfume Genius made a name from Learning, a much-lauded collection of deeply personal, yet accessible and quietly anthemic songs. The Seattle indie crooner gives us a generous waft of forthcoming Put Your Back N 2 It, due February 21 on Matador, with “All Waters.” The two-minute aria sees Hadreas’ voice soar calmly into the Jeff Buckley stratosphere while the subject matter brings us back down to Earth.
Hadreas considers the conditions under which he and his partner can freely hold hands in the street, when “flowers cover the Earth” and “no tree is shivering.” Of the double standard, Hadreas says, “Why are straight women always walking with their hands in the back pocket of their boyfriends’ jeans? Would I do that all the time too if I didn’t have to think about it?” As lush strings build behind Hadreas’ aching yet firm pleas, it’s hard not to retroactively question the heterosexual privilege implied by The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
“No matter how much I think the shame and fear is gone, there is always a little something in the back of my mind… I can’t even imagine that hesitation ever going away, and that makes me very sad,” Hadreas says. We’re glad, at least, that he was able to channel his well-earned frustration into a song as lovely as this one.
PUT YOUR BACK N 2 IT WILL BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 21 ON MATADOR. FOR MORE ON PERFUME GENIUS, VISIT MATADOR’S WEBSITE.