It wouldn’t be wise to soundtrack your next dinner party with an album by Perfume Genius, a.k.a. Mike Hadreas. The Seattle singer/songwriter’s latest offering Put Your Back N 2 It contains a world of drug-addicted prostitutes, painfully unbalanced relationships, sexual abuse, and outright violence; a precocious understanding of how people get hurt, set to haunting piano chords and told in Hadreas’ tender voice. It’s music better played, perhaps, in the privacy of one’s own room. Despite all of its sadness, though, Perfume Genius’ songs give more to the listener than they take: There’s an inspiring optimism in Hadreas’ work.
In this installment of First Take, MTV Hive’s series spotlighting rising artists, Hadreas performs “Hood” and “Take Me Home” while speaking about maintaining hope and finding catharsis in his songwriting. “I usually write about things that I think I need to figure out and usually those aren’t the happiest things because I don’t need any help with those,” he says, against the backdrop of an upbeat rendition of “Hood,” the lead single from Put Your Back N 2 It. “It’s kind of therapy in a way. I don’t think people need to have a shitty experience in order to make something — but it happens a lot, and really beautiful things can come from it.” He’s right; there’s a lot of beauty to behold here.