MAGNET’s #20 Album Of 2017: Perfume Genius’ “No Shape”

There was a distinct feeling after 2014’s Too Bright that Perfume Genius had summited—in fact, the feeling arrived during the album, precisely four tracks in. How, exactly, does one top the life-affirming, career-defining, 12-minute-long Z-snap in the air that is “Queen”/“Fool”/“No Good”? Mike Hadreas has a few ideas. Moonlighting as his own muse, Hadreas delivered with No Shape his most alluring and disturbing work, an anxiety-inducing, endorphin-bursting pop smear that histrionically milks dry and then tips all of pop’s sacred cows. Openers “Otherside” and “Slip Away,” queen-age symphonies to God, are all release, no builds necessary; side-two sundowners “Choir” and “Die 4 You” almost literally flip the script, an Amadeus-ex-machina panic attack and trip hop’s black swan song, respectively. Hadreas, nothing left to prove, saves the last words (pillow-talking, morning-gazing coda “Alan”) for Alan Wyffels, his longtime partner in romance and music, divisions left permanently blurred after No Shape: “Thought I’d hide/Maybe leave something secret behind/Never thought I’d sing outside.” Sing, brother. —Noah Bonaparte Pais