Perfume Genius — Ugly Season — Album Review

Alternative | Experimental | Singer-Songwriter


The musical project of Iowa born singer-songwriter Michael Aden Hadreas, known as Perfume Genius, had been making waves ever since their discography began, by the merit of their amazingly experimental sound and aesthetic.

Pretty much every single album that Perfume Genius had released had thrown a curveball or two towards listeners. I, for one, fully started to delve into the sonic world of Perfume Genius through their 2020 album, titled Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

This album was deemed by many to be the most accessible project that Perfume Genius had put out. And that idea was surely backed up by the fact that it was essentially mu gateway album. However, there were still elements aplenty to suggest that the uniqueness that emanates from this artist were definitely alive and kicking.

But now, we move on to 2022, in which Perfume Genius brings to us their brand new studio album; the sixth in their discography. As far as I know, there were no teaser tracks to herald the arrival of Ugly Season. Therefore, I was going into this project completely afresh.

And it’s definitely safe to say that Ugly Season threw another curveball our way. It is markedly more experimental in its sound than the likes of Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. In fact, it may even just be the most experimental in Perfume Genius’ entire discography (which is really saying something).

The project carries through these long and extensive ambient numbers, that transcend the idea of being just tracks; each of them instead stand as their own unique and immersive experiences. There’s also this implementation of more classical elements that really give the album just as much of an artistic approach as the cover art for this album.

I don’t want to say that Ugly Season is Perfume Genius’ magnum opus, but there’s no denying that it is a pivotal staple in the singer-songwriter’s discography.

However, this approach to being extensive and immersive means that Ugly Season doesn’t come without its minor backlashes. There were a fair few tracks (particularly the instrumental-heavy ones) that felt just a little too patience-testing for myself, and serve little purpose unless you’re listening to the album front to back.

I mean, the longest track on here, “Eye in the Wall”, clocks in at a whopping duration that lasts almost 9 minutes (although this track in particular is actually masterfully made). Although, being somebody who fully got into Perfume Genius through Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, I still found myself gravitating toward the more punchier tracks on here, such as “Pop Song” and the title track.

The extensivity of this album also means that it will inevitably take me longer than most other albums, to get a true sense of how I really feel about it. But the way things are looking by merit of how ingeniously this album has been composed, I feel like my opinions towards Ugly Season are only going to become more positive.

In short, Ugly Season is undoubtedly one of those albums that rings with a sense of importance, and will likely be a staple project of the musical year. But with how unique and surreal this album sounds, it is rightfully deserved.

Favourite Tracks: Pop Song | Ugly Season | Eye in the Wall | Hellbent

Least Favourite Track: Scherzo

Matador Records

Final Score: 85%



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Joe Boothby

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.