Perfume Genius has announced the follow-up to 2014’s Too Bright. As with that album, the title of his upcoming release uses vague descriptive language — No Shape — to presumably introduce some ghoulishly beautiful music. And, with the announcement comes the first track from the album — which is actually far more beauty-heavy than ghoul-heavy — alongside a music video directed by experimental filmmaker/frequent Björk collaborator (“Black Lake,” “Stonemilker,” “Mutual Core”) Andrew Thomas Huang.
The video for a track called “Slip Away” (which premiered on the Fader) sees Hadreas in an edenic landscape, feeding fruit to/being fed fruit by a woman, with whom he also frolics and tangos. But they also happen to be pursued by two increasingly menacing Ren Faire clown-y dudes (apparently modeled after Donald Trump) who seem intent on destroying their paradise.
While for Too Bright Hadreas enlisted Portishead’s master-of-foreboding Adrien Utley for production, No Shape sees him collaborating with Blake Mills, the guitarist/songwriter known, beyond his own albums (Break Mirrors and Heigh Ho), for his work with Alabama Shakes, Conor Oberst, and his collaborative tour with Fiona Apple. And it seems, at least in this first track, that Perfume Genius’ sound has shifted from pitch black to fused with ecstasy, even if the point is to illustrate the fragility and tenuousness of it, as the music video seems to. (The exalting lyrics, “Oh, ooh love/They’ll never break the shape we take” bears a sense of impermanence when taken alongside the album’s title, and the video’s narrative.) Hadreas released a statement about the album (h/t Pitchfork):
I pay my rent. I’m approaching health. The things that are bothering me personally now are less clear, more confusing. I don’t think I really figured them out with these songs. There’s something freeing about how I don’t have it figured out. Unpacking little morsels, magnifying my discomfort, wading through buried harm, laughing at or digging in to the embarrassing drama of it all. I may never come out the other side but it’s invigorating to try and hopefully, ultimately helpful. I think a lot of them are about trying to be happy in the face of whatever bullshit I created for myself or how horrible everything and everyone is.
Huang said in the Fader that one of the running themes of the album is Hadreas’ intimate friendships with the women in his life, and elaborated on how they came up with the imagery for the video:
We talked about movies like Thelma & Louise, and Celine and Julie Go Boating — movies about friends who are close in an “I would die for you” way. There’s usually some kind of outer force that’s threatening them, that they have to run away from…So I just came up with the idea of a video where Mike is opposite a really close friend. They’re like two sisters on the run from the man, you know? They had to be running from something, so I had the idea of them running from little schoolboys, but we would cast old men that kind of look like Donald Trump. So we created these Trump gremlins that organically became the villains of this fairy tale world.
The Fader said of the album as a whole that it “feels borderline panoramic, hinged on lavish melodies and full-bodied arrangement” but that it’s “still anchored by” the brooding and candor to which fans have become accustomed. It’ll be out on May 5, via Matador.
Watch the video:
Check out the album art: