A more optimistic, rounded Mike Hadreas (Seattle’s power-pop artist Perfume Genius) comes through on his third release, “No Shape.” He performs Oct. 21 at the Neptune Theatre.
As Seattle’s power-pop artist Perfume Genius, Mike Hadreas reveals his every ragged edge with painstaking candor and elaborate vision. On his third release, “No Shape,” a more optimistic, rounded Hadreas comes to light. He performs at the Neptune Theatre on Oct. 21.
“[When we made “No Shape”], everybody in the studio was amped up. And some of the songs, you know, were patient and quiet, but everybody put everything into them. It was all very exciting because I felt like my ideas were coming to life but also going in a completely different direction that [was] bigger than I was dreaming,” Hadreas said.
“No Shape,” produced by renowned L.A. musician Blake Mills, is as triumphant to the ear as it felt to make. Whereas Hadreas searched for footing after addiction in 2010s “Learning” and explored being queer in a heteronormative world in 2014’s “Too Bright,” on “No Shape,” Hadreas sings with euphoric ease about having the life he’s pined for.
8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $18 (800-745-3000 or stgpresents.org).
“I didn’t know at the time that was the album I was making,” Hadreas said, “For me it was very dramatic and [being happy] sounds very pleasant. ‘No Shape’ didn’t feel pleasant when we were making it; it felt dramatic and wild, but I guess that’s essentially what I’m trying to get at: I tend to block [myself] from [happiness] a lot. But when I really think about it and look at my life, like where I live and who I’m with, it is a pretty pleasant kind of thing even though outside of our house there’s a lot of icky vile [stuff] happening, and in my own head.”
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“No Shape’s” primary muse is Hadreas’ partner and musical collaborator Alan Wyffels. Wyffels and Hadreas have been together since meeting in Alcoholics Anonymous in 2009. Wyffels, a classically trained pianist, is the only other original member of Perfume Genius’ live band, and an essential part in bringing Hadreas’ creative visions to life.
“There’s this kind of trust I have with Alan that I’ve never really had with someone else that no matter what happens we’re on each other’s side completely … I feel safe processing anything with him, and I think he does as well. Sometimes my music doesn’t match our life, like it’s darker and the things I’m telling him that the songs are about are creepy. I don’t know if I’ve ever fully, been that [honest] with someone,” Hadreas said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t fight constantly. But I think that’s what we do because we know we’re still going to be there [for each other]. Then we just end up laughing and watching ‘The Voice.’ ”
Fittingly, the closing track, “Alan,” is Hadreas’ favorite off “No Shape.” On the pretty, piano-driven ballad, Hadreas’ fragile falsetto revels in the sweetness of their life while a creeping string arrangement implies the pain they’ve traversed.
“My engineer, Sean Everett, had the idea of putting the orchestra on it, and there was just this kind of weird magic [in what he did.] It sounded new to me than when it was completely my song, and I just cried and cried and cried,” Hadreas said.
His devoted fan base will find respite in “No Shape,” as they have in previous releases. Frankly, giving his young queer listeners a place to belong is a large reason why Hadreas makes music.
“I think about the kids. I always do. I remember being young and looking to music for somebody to understand me or make me feel less lonely in how I’m feeling. I couldn’t find that at home or at school, so I had to look in books and music,” Hadreas said. “When I feel like I can be that for a kid, it’s kind of like my mission.”
A move to Los Angeles was on the horizon for Perfume Genius, but the Bothell-bred Hadreas has recently put that on hold, unsure about leaving behind the quiet Pacific Northwest existence he says is in his blood. Hadreas and Wyffels plan to remain in their Tacoma home this winter with time for the “pleasant” and for beginning a new album.