#47 Perfume Genius: Ugly Season

Picture the scene: an American dude called Mike Hadreas walks into a bar. Now, this bar is in America. Obviously, Mike still doesn’t trust that the danger posed by COVID to yet feel confident enough to contemplate long haul travel. Sure he could go to Mexico – which if you look at a map you’ll see is to the South of the USA – but he’s smart enough to know that Mexico produces Corona beer so he’s not foolhardy enough to take that kind of risk, and he is well read enough to have noted a number of Facebook posts shared by his Uncle that actually place the blame for the Coronavirus outbreak squarely at Mexico’s door. Mike feels that there isn’t enough evidence to confidently state any interpretation of the facts he’s seen. He’s just asking questions. He could also go to Canada, which is commonly referred to as being ‘above’ the USA, but that’s simply due to centuries old Eurocentric indoctrination regarding the supposed superiority of the (richer, whiter) global north over the (poorer, browner) global south. Canada is actually to the north of the USA. But Mr Hadreas has heard that Canada is full of sexual predators and cultural genocide, so that’s out. Charity basketball game? No thank you, Mr Butler, says Mike Hadreas. No, Mike will be visiting a bar in the good ol’ US of USA. ‘Over the pond’. Except Mike Hadreas won’t be crossing any pond. Because he lives there.

Now, again, Mike Hadreas is in America – I think I mentioned it – so this wouldn’t be one of your standard old English style pubs that my readership in this part of the country might be picturing. There’s no intimate wooden interiors; there’s no dartboard; there’s no border collie, soaking wet from that morning’s walk, sleeping next to an open fireplace. There’s no old man with a stick sat on his own in the corner. Being all racist. No, this is an American bar.

So, because it’s an American bar, Mike would enter by pushing open a swing door. The piano player in the corner would stop for a second to query Mr Hadreas having the tenacity to walk into a saloon on this side of town. What song would the pianist be playing? Let’s say Pop Song. I know, hard to picture, but I can at least imagine the pianist making a stab at that song, whereas I worry everything else on ‘Ugly Season’ may be beyond his ability. The poker players to the right of the piano place down their cards. It’s a high stakes game, and Willard ‘Bilk’ Bolton has a straight flush, but some things are worth keeping an eye on.

Is Mike Hadreas wearing a cowboy hat? I’m sorry, I thought I’d already made it clear that he was American? Perhaps not clear enough: he is American and he isn’t a professional rodeo clown, so of course he’s wearing a cowboy hat.

Mike pauses for a second after entering, the silence that his introduction has inspired really emphasising the high pitched creaking of the saloon doors still swinging in his wake. He surveys his surroundings, then walks towards the bar, always keenly aware of the saloon patrons’ eyes fixed upon his every step.

He fixed his eyes on the barkeep, narrowing them slightly and waiting a beat or two before breaking the intense silence that had been forced upon the bar. Those saloon doors still swinging in the background. Quieter. And quieter. And quieter each time. Before they were barely audible.

“Mr Motherfucker, you know who I am”

The barkeep was obviously taken aback by the opening, a slight twitch was visible on his brow, but he refused to allow this no good punk to know he was rattled.

“No, and I don’t give a good goddamn”

Hadreas bowed his head slightly as he allowed a wry smile to break across his lips. He adjusted his Stetson and raised his eyes to once again meet the barkeep’s.

“Well bartender, it’s a plain to see, I’m the bad motherfucker called Perfume G”. For it is he.

The barkeep rolled his eyes slightly. He’d seen this before, some young ne’er-do-well looking to make a name for himself in this town. This ‘Perfume G’ wasn’t the first, and he certainly wouldn’t be the last.

“Yeah, I’ve heard your name down the way, and I kick motherfucking asses like you every day”, the barkeep scoffed, “Anyway, what are you drinking? If you’re ordering food I’ll need to know your motherfucking table number”

Mike Hadreas is American, so he ordered a Jack Daniels. Or possibly a Budweiser.

“Got any ID?”

Any ID?? Mike was taken aback. He was forty one years old. Nobody had asked him for ID in a loooooong time. And why would they?? He was even older than me! And I’m pretty much dead! Yet here was this random barkeep questioning if he was even old enough to drink! I feel like I should make it clear that, because this is all happening in America, the barkeep is calling into question whether Mike Hadreas was over twenty one. Still very much a complimentary suggestion of his actual age, just not as big as it would be in the UK (where the drinking age is actually eighteen).

Hadreas felt such a sense of joy burning inside him. He’d lived a long life, he’d done many bad things, yet here was this barkeep suggesting that he wasn’t even twenty one yet. Perhaps he could recapture his stolen youth after all? Perhaps the years hadn’t been as hard on his body as they had been on his soul. A tear formed in Mike’s eye and he let out an involuntary and minute yelp of happiness, as recognition of the possible victory he had won against his own mortality caused him to slowly burst into joyous tears.

That. That yelp. If Perfume Genius just sampled that yelp and released it repeated over a 45 minute album, he’s so freaking amazing at what he does that it’d still feature on the Necessary Evil countdown.



2020 #2

2017 #1


Metacritic: 79

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