It starts with the sounds of someone taking a breath, like Mike Hadreas is psyching himself up, which makes sense because in my mind I kinda like the idea that performing the songs on a Perfume Genius album isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. I’m not saying I wanna hear someone suffering but there’s something there are many beautiful things about his first album, Learning, a record that I literally cried myself to sleep listening to once – (with the aid of one too many Zopiclones, I should probably add in the spirit of full disclosure) – but anyway, one of the many beautiful things is the honesty and openness of the album. I guess he’s gonna do exactly what he urges other people to do in the title of this new body of work. He’s putting his back into it. Open: yes. Honest: yes. But another word that I’ve seen pop up a lot in write-ups of Perfume Genius is vulnerable. I mean, yeah, I get that and I understand why people say it – and to some degree I acknowledge it – but let’s not get too simplistic and paint Mike Hadreas as some kind of completely passive, trembling and fragile waif. Sure, there are moments like the song that was just playing in which I think he was singing about ghosts and loss and he sounded crushed but now he’s singing “He’ll never break you baby” in a way that’s way too assured for a straight out victim. The more the album is going on – I’m hearing more confidence. It’s not a straight up sassy affair. There’s a lot of triumph here too. Love feels important right now, whatever I think about it personally at the moment. The songs feel contradictory in the same way that life is. He’s sounding desperate now – saying how he can’t hold his lovers hand in public. His vocals are higher in the mix these days. The songs are still short but their brevity doesn’t stop them from holding whole stories. These songs suggest a lot. It’s heavy but it’s enthralling. It’s uplifting, too, in that it inspires. I feel excited. It’s fucking sad also, but there’s some real treasure in this particular sadness. It’s making me feel romantic and spaced out and a lot more thinky than I’d like to be tonight. It’s heavy and there’s a lot to it and I love it right now and maybe I love Mike Hadreas right now or at least feel like I do. It’s finished so I’ll stop whether this is all I have left or not.