This is the third album from the Seattle-based artist Mike Hadreas who has enlisted Portishead's Adrian Utley to produce this melancholy wonder. Anyone who heard Hadreas last album "Put Your Back N 2 It' walked away deeply impressed and fully prepared to do evangelical missionary work exalting his talents. "Too Bright" continues in this vein but it is a more diverse mix of songs. As such it is a darker beast than its immediate predecessors, an album which in parts is infused with both heartbreak and rage.
For those who loved the shimmering piano ballads of his first two albums a number standout for inspection not least the gorgeous opener "I Decline" with its slight Thom Yorke vibe and the splendid "No Good" with a heartbreaking vocal from Hadreas shows that this artist can pen lush laments like few others. The album however takes a sort of John Grant turn into pounding synth songs which are equally compelling as the gentler fare present. The single "Queen" is anchored by heavy drum beats and is Hadreas's counter attack on homophobia which he delivers with a defiant steely anger as he sings "Cracked, peeling/ riddled with disease/don't you know me? No family is safe/when I sashay." Equally "Long pig" is pure 16-bit laser sequences and Kraftwerk like in its driving synth. The pulsating "Grid" also sits in the same category and conjures up memories of the early Human League. The soft hymnal "I'm a Mother" is almost an instrumental as Hadreas vocals are so low contrasting in turn with the slowly building emotive drama of the hurt vocal contained in the evocative title track. The whole thing is rounded off with the fragile "All Along", a closer worthy of a great album and a potential huge hit if picked up by a more mainstream artist.
Like Rufus Wainwright the music of Mike Hadreas has often been badly typecast as "gay piano". The fact is that both artists have used their sexuality to transcend such cliches and move to a bigger stage dealing with issues of transformation, beauty, and truth. Those looking for tracks like the sumptuous "All Waters" will find songs of its equal on "Too Bright" but they will also locate an artist determined to develop into new areas, not afraid to speak out and expose some very bruised raw feelings. This is not an easy or immediately accessible album yet it rewards richly and leads you to believe that despite the the all round excellence on display the best may yet be to come from the Perfume Genius.
Review by Red on Black