Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Repeat: Perfume Genius - Mr. Peterson

Perfume Genius is the alias of one Mike Hadreas, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter (why does that phrase make me wince?). Of course, the actual "Perfume Genius" is Jean-Baptiste Grenouille of Paris, the protagonist of Patrick Suskind's "Perfume" who was born with an incredible sense of smell and used it to create and preserve the "perfect scent".

This Perfume Genius shares the same eerieness of that book on his debut album, singing haunting piano ballads that are as beautiful as they are unsettling. Just as Sufjan Steven's "John Wayne Gacy, Jr" turns one of most prolific serial killers in history into a tender story, Mr. Peterson tells of a young man's taboo relationship with his teacher and the suicide that followed. In someone else's hands, this song could be rife with hand-wringing, but in the capable fingers and voice of Perfume Genius, it's Mad World-level hypnotizing.

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