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Album Review: Perfume Genius - 'Ugly Season'

Updated: May 3, 2023

Perfume Genius's (Mike Hadreas) Ugly Season began as an accompaniment to Hadreas's and choreographer Kate Wallich's dance piece, The Sun Still Burns Here. Though Hadreas has stated that some of the tracks were written as he has traditionally written songs for his music in the past, the overall process was a collaborative one. The ending result is a twisting mix of pop stylings and operatic gusto. Hadreas and Co. play with the texture of melody so well on this, especially on the track "Teeth". It's something that is so alien from alt music, but yet familiar to it as well.

After a very ethereal beginning to the album, Hadreas and Co. pivot to a more poppy sound on the aptly named "Pop Song". After a rather tame instrumental, we again pivot with the more upbeat title track. One track in particular that stuck with me was "Eye in the Wall". Vocally, it reminded me of later Bowie, but musically, it was something different altogether. (maybe mid-2000's Radiohead?) I know this album was written with choreography in mind. However, this was the first track I felt I could really move to (we'll leave the others to the professionals).

Ugly Season is yet another creative stretch for the always creative Perfume Genius. Hadreas and Co. took a lot of risks on this record and while not all of them paid off, I think it's an effective alt album. While I'm sure it won't get the most radio play Perfume Genius has ever seen, (it's far too abstract for that), it hits the mark for us.

Rating - 3.75/5

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