New Albums From Perfume Genius, Light Pollution and Sun Kil Moon

Three interesting new albums have recently been released featuring varied music styles but all with widespread appeal.

Learning by Perfume Genius

The promo package for the new album Learning by Perfume Genius features a stark image of the band’s sole member Mike Hadreas — a 26 year old musical prodigy who hails from Seattle.  Pictures within the promo materials depict Hadreas with a blackened eye and shirtless, and the tone set within Learning reflects this dark and foreboding theme.  The songs on Learning are gut wrenching and are filled with nuanced, yet painful, lyrics and melodies.  Hadreas shows a wide range with his vocals ranging from cracking to swooning.

The album was produced to impart a lo-tech sound, but this does not degrade from the quality of the end product.  The smallest of details come through in Learning right down to Hadreas’ fingers tapping the piano keys.  This renders a truly personal feel to Learning and in a way puts you in the room with the artist.  One would initially envision a relatively narrow audience who would appreciate Perfume Genius — but this is far from the case.  The ability of Hadreas to effectively weave a melody ensures a far wider appeal for Learning, and will likely generate a new group of converts.

The clarity and simplicity within the production of Learning ensures that the often biting lyrics take center stage.  Hadreas is quickly establishing himself as a master story teller, and listeners can’t help but feel they are sharing an intimate moment with him (in a non-gay way of course).  Despite the harshness of many of Learning’s themes, the album comes across as comforting and warm when taken in its totality.  In the end, the message of Learning is one of optimism — no matter how bad today is, there is always tomorrow.

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Apparitions by Light Pollution

Light Pollution is uncharacteristic in their normality when compared to their label’s (Capmark Records) typical offbeat and eclectic artist.  The band hails from Chicago, and Apparitions is their recently released debut album.  Apparitions features bass lines imparting New Wave nostalgia and texturized synthesizers incorporating in lifting song structures.

The higher intensity songs on Apparitions are the highlights, and the slower ballads on this album only serve to slow down its momentum.  Although this album is objectively less than polished, this first effort coming from Light Pollution is definitely worth checking out.  The raw talent within many of the album’s tracks — most saliently Good Feelings — portends that we will hear much more about this band in the future.

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Admiral Fell Promises by Sun Kil Moon

Mark Kozelek has prodigiously been churning out music for two decades as both a solo act as well as under the guise of Sun Kil Moon.  Historically, Kozelek would initially release material on Sun Kil Moon albums and then proceed to re-introduce evolved versions in the form of a solo work.  This gave fans a chance to appreciate tracks with both a full band electric feel as well as hearing them rendered in a more acoustic solo version.

This latest effort by Kozelek is an about face — Admiral Fell Promises solely features Kozelek backed up by an acoustic guitar.  This album is heavily influenced by classical guitar, and the result is an intriguing mix between classic Kozelek and actual classical sounds most resembling Croatian musician Ana Vidovic.

Admiral Fell Promises is heavily influenced from the various locales in and around San Francisco, and listening to the lyrics transports one to the windy shores of Half Moon Bay.  Fans of Kozelek will surely enjoy this album, and those yet to discover him might find this change of pace between the solo and Sun Kil Moon acts as a good excuse to check him out.

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