Perfume Genius – Ugly Season

Perfume Genius' sixth album is the biggest stylistic change of their career so far, though not an altogether surprising one

Album Review by Lewis Wade | 13 Jun 2022
  • Perfume Genius - Ugly Season
Album title: Ugly Season
Artist: Perfume Genius
Label: Matador
Release date: 17 Jun

Mike Hadreas has always done drama better than most, so using music from his immersive dance prduction, The Sun Still Burns Here, for Ugly Season is not an unthinkable leap. However, the difference compared to previous albums is that the arrangements drive the mood, rather than his wonderful vocals and evocative storytelling, both of which mostly take a backseat here. This makes sense as the music was conceived to be part of a visual performance, and the album doesn't really mess with that, mostly adding vocals to provide texture rather than taking focus.

Pop Song and Photograph are two of the more “regular” songs, with discernible vocals, though the former has some interesting percussion under the surface, while the latter is reminiscent of Nothing At All, except with even more abrasive guitar. Experimental tendencies are throughout, as on Scherzo's jazz piano or the proggy, motorik vibes of Eye in the Wall. Even songs that feel normal have extra dimensions, like the industrial beat of Hellbent or dramatic woodwinds of Teeth.

The constantly shifting mood makes it difficult to settle into a rhythm, which may be due to the missing visual element, but there are more than enough well-executed left turns on Ugly Season to make a solid standalone album.

Listen to: Photograph, Pop Song, Herem