In some ways, Perfume Genius' intimate, unflinching balladry reached its logical conclusion on Put Your Back N 2 It. On that deceptively gentle collection of songs, Mike Hadreas' songwriting gained more agency while opening the door to the possibilitieshe explores to the fullest on Too Bright. With the help of Portishead's Adrian Utley and PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, Hadreas marries his razor-sharp observations with omnivorous music that gives him even more range. If he was empowered on Put Your Back N 2 It, now he's just powerful: on "Queen"'s stately, futuristic glam rock, he subverts homophobia into an alluring weapon as he sings "no family is safe when I sashay" as a proud and predatory monarch. His portraits of victimization are even more vividly drawn as well. "Fool" is a biting examination of the gay best friend as the ultimate accessory to a stylish straight woman's life, setting lyrics like "I made your dress/I'm bleeding out/On the couch you bought/That I picked out" to soulful, finger-snapping pop. Too Bright gives the lushness of Hadreas' previous music fangs and claws, and some of the album's best moments are the most unsettling. "My Body"'s eerie, shuddering physicality invokes the spirit of Harvey's Rid of Me; like that album's highlights, it's equally terrifying and addictive. Things get even more feral on "Grid" and "Longpig," which evokes the Knife with its detached synths and body horror imagery. And while Hadreas' ballads play a supporting role, they feel even more striking and unguarded as they span tender vignettes such as the title track and the heartbreaking "Don't Let Them In," where he sings "In an alternate ribbon of time/My dances were sacred/And my lisp was evidence that I spoke for both spirits" with a raw eloquence that rivals anything on Learning or Put Your Back N 2 It. Equally bold, vulnerable, concise, and expansive, Too Bright dazzles. ~ Heather Phares
Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "His ambitions are even greater on his third album, which demands attention in a way his quietly heartbreaking music hasn't in the past..."
Magnet - "[T]ruly masterful, challenging the notion that classic American songwriting must berooted in '60s folk revivalism or '80s indie jangle with the first truly great art-pop album of the decade."
CMJ - "Fool has Hadreas taking on a slick, glam persona, with twisted snaps flicking against lounge-y synth stabs and a gang of floating harmonies."
Paste (magazine) - "If the first two Perfume Genius albums played something like nightmares -- beautiful, full of danger, guided by pristine internal logic -- then TOO BRIGHT is where Hadreas finally yells himself awake."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Hadreas' most extroverted album to date, a record about shattering illusions, defiantly looking away when you feel like it, and boldly staring back at those who hate you."
Clash (magazine) - "While the mode of delivery has evolved, the vivid lyrical imagery of old and the soulful falsetto remain."