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As long as human life persists on this planet there will always be a steady supply of melancholy solo artists making music born of a broken heart, a tortured soul, or both. Seattle’s Perfume Genius (or Mike Hadreas) is one such individual, and he does it better and more beautifully than most, with a sophomore album that thankfully avoids the pitfalls of monomaniac acoustic woe.

The wryly-named ‘Normal Song’ is a simple, stripped-down, ghostly ballad of conspicuous and fragile beauty that recalls Tracy Chapman, while elsewhere the oft-tremulous vocals and wistful songwriting bear comparison to Antony Hegarty at his best. There are brushes of euphoria here too, though; the two minutes of ‘All Waters’ feel like an ecstasy-drenched house track, played underwater at 33rpm. There can be a tendency towards self-indulgence in music of this ilk, but Perfume Genius’ songs are short, each like a swiftly delivered pill of a different emotional hue, and the album is over long before it all becomes too draining.

By Chris Watkeys

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