Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Perfume Genius – Slip Away

Third time’s the charm…

Hannah Jocelyn: “Slip Away” is immense yet compressed; yes dynamically, but also literally. It’s impressive the amount of ground this thing covers in under three minutes — it’s as if Mike Hadreas and Blake Mills set a 2:45 time limit for themselves just to see how big they could make the scope within that frame, and how many instruments they could cram in before the clock ran out. As a result, both outdo themselves, even Mills, who was already on a winning streak thanks to helping in solid albums for Laura Marling, Alabama Shakes, John Legend, and many others. I love the sense of adventure this has, even more so than any of Mills’ other productions — why not record dozens upon dozens of percussion layers, why not add a trippy vocal filter to the otherwise pristine harmonies, why not add classical hammered dulcimer for no apparent reason? The best moment, though, is more subtle; just before the final chorus, Mike Hadreas gets to show off how pretty the underlying melody actually is before all the sound bursts back in. That moment is why the song comes together so beautifully — Mills and engineer Shawn Everett wound up with over 250 tracks on one song for Sound & Color, and it’s hard not to imagine an even bigger number here, but something as ambitious as this would be unlistenable if the underlying songcraft didn’t justify the bombastic studio craft. Thankfully, it does.

Tim de Reuse: I adore each individual element (the morphing, alien plucked synthesizers, the vocals all hot and compressed, the headache-inducing percussion at the first climax) and I could probably hammer out a terribly clinical paragraph gushing about each one, and about how this all works as a progression from Hadreas’s last album, but there’s a gorgeous little sentiment past the sound design details. The lyrics are triumphant and feverish, and serve as a very romantic stand-in for yelling “ignore the fucking haters” until you’re out of breath. I think most of us need that pretty badly here in the year of 2017 — especially if we’re queer.

Will Adams: “Let all them voices slip away,” Hadreas sings, before a wave of layered drums and blown-out guitars slams them away with monolithic force. So much happens in its under-three-minute run time that, in a rare case, I’m happy it’s not longer.

A.J. Cohn: “Slip Away” works so well in part because it balances rootedness in the signature sound Hadreas developed over his three albums, with genuine innovation. The track opens with a throbbing baseline that evokes the beginning of “Grid,” but in a brighter mode. Throughout, the song maintains this sonically sweeter take on Hadreas’ typical jagged experimentalism, to a radically, explosively joyous effect. This beautiful celebration of love and interpersonal connection as healing and freeing forces is, like one of Hadreas’ best pieces “Queen,” a powerful queer anthem.

Alfred Soto: Sexually we’ve got things in common; ideologically not so much. Treating the small gesture as if it were a cannon volley, “Slip Away” has too much in common with 2010-era Arcade Fire or, gad, Walk the Moon — a battle between the intimacy of the verses (“Love can never break the shape we’ll take”) and the by now anonymous communitarian spirit of the chorus. And someone ask the toy piano what the hell it’s doing.

Josh Langhoff: A lo-fi wall-of-sound empowerment anthem, fully realized in its own way, though I keep wishing it’d shift to a backbeat at the loud distorty part. Kelly Clarkson should totally “Little Red Wagon” this song.

Claire Biddles: This is so much, built for a final scene in a movie — a car taking off from the road into the sky, or a house bursting into flames as its inhabitants run away into the distance. Mike Hadreas’ voice is gentle but not tentative, his repeated command of “no caressing, no caressing” demanding a rougher, surer kind of feeling, a kind of pro-active love.

Reader average: [7.58] (12 votes)

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One Response to “Perfume Genius – Slip Away”

  1. The third [7.29] song this year!