Six years after Mike Hadreas started performing under the stage name Perfume Genius—just as he was beginning work on his third album,Too Bright, out this month—the indie troubadour has had a change of heart.
“I started writing the new album pretty much the same way I always have,” Hadreas says. “Most of my music has been patient and emotional and gentle—not the subject manner, really, but the execution—but it wasn’t working the same way this time.”
Instead, Hadreas gave up his tried and true formula for songwriting and decided to challenge himself with something new.
“I tried to flip everything and write using different sounds,” he explains. “I started using harsher, louder sounds and basing the songs around those instead of around the lyrics.” The result? “The music is more confident and brash, and so the words that followed were more audacious.”
It’s true: Too Bright is a more forceful album that Hadreas’ previous endeavors. And while it’s still an album that’s enjoyably easy to sit with—the title track in particular is orchestral and haunting and easy to put on repeat for a somewhat embarrassing number of refrains—Hadreas points out that his songs still deal with some of the less pleasant sides of existence.
“My life’s changed a lot since my first album, my circumstances have gotten better, but I’m not happier,” he says. “I’ve been looking outside for things to make me feel better, but even when I’ve gotten them I didn’t change. So I had to figure out how to be more comfortable in my own skin.”
This album seems to have helped him do just that. So much so that Hadreas himself is willing to admit to what a triumph it is. “I know it’s good,” he says “because I’m so nervous about it.”
Here, Hadreas puts his moniker to the test and shares his notes on a batch of our favorite new colognes.
Annick Goutal Eau de Monsieur
“This is citrusy and fresh—which isn’t always my go-to—and feels very polite. But I do like this scent; it grows on me the longer it sits. I’d definitely wear this.” $140, annickgoutal.com
Diptyque Essences Insenseés EDT
“I have another one of their colognes that I really like. This one smells very edible, very gourmet. It’s mimosa-scented, but there’s something almost powder-like about it, almost like cookies that have recently been cleaned. I want to keep smelling it over and over.” $175, diptyqueparis.com
Jimmy Choo Man
“This smells like real cologne, like something the hottest guy in school would wear. It’s also got a very masculine bottle; something about it reminds me of Batman.” $82, bloomingdales.com
Prada Luna Rossa Extreme
“I like the medicinal smell at first. It has a woodsy scent, almost like an incense or Christmas. The spice really makes this one for me.” $86, sephora.com
“This one has a hint of citrus, but there’s a kick to it. I like this one a lot—it seems to have some leather in it. But I could be totally off about that.” $95, nordstrom.com
Paco Rabanne Invictus
“This looks like a trophy. And because the packaging is nice, I’m more apt to like it. But it’s got a sweet smell and there’s something triumphant about it. There’s a zing; I could see using this as aromatherapy if I really needed a pick me up.” $82, macys.com
Tom Ford Patchouli Absolut
“This is definitely a winter scent, which makes it sound like what people would wear when they retire to a library after dinner. Perhaps there’s a fireplace nearby.” $215, tomford.com, available beginning in November
Michael Kors for Men
“This one is herbal and warm. It’s got a very upscale, masculine scent—like if eight George Clooneys were in the elevator just before you got on.” $78, michaelkors.com