Perfume Genius: Tiny Desk Concert The band's long-awaited performance at the Tiny Desk was both beautiful and, at times, intense, featuring three deeply personal songs by frontman Mike Hadreas.

Tiny Desk

Perfume Genius

The music of Perfume Genius can be intense, shuddering with a breathtaking fragility — but also shimmying with self-assured defiance. The songs, much like frontman Mike Hadreas himself, are strong, but not hard. As he worked his way through two new tracks ("Valley," "Slip Away") and one older ("Normal Song"), there were moments that were both beautiful and unnerving, in no small part because the songs are so deeply personal. Hadreas, who years ago battled addiction and a parade of inner demons before finding love and an ever-expanding confidence, wrote much of No Shape as a love letter to his boyfriend (and Perfume Genius keyboardist) Alan Wyffels.

On "Valley," Hadreas reflects on the creeping past as he sings, "How long must we live right / before we don't even have to try?" On "Slip Away," he celebrates having emerged on the other side of darkness: "Don't hold back, I want to break free, God is singing through your body, and I'm carried by the sound." But Hadreas saved the most powerful moment for the final song, as guitarist Tom Bromley and percussionist Herve Becart stepped away from the Tiny Desk, leaving just him and Wyffels on keys as the two played "Normal Song," a profoundly moving plea for strength in the face of an always uncertain future. "Take my hand when you are scared and I will pray," sings Hadreas. "... And no secret, no matter how nasty, can poison your voice or keep you from joy."

The fourth full-length from Perfume Genius, No Shape, was released May 5 on Matador Records. The band's tour through the U.S. and Europe continues through the fall.

No Shape is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • "Valley"
  • "Slip Away"
  • "Normal Song"

Musicians

Mike Hadreas (vocals); Tom Bromley (electric guitar, vocals); Alay Wyffels (keyboards, vocals); Herve Becart (percussion)


Credits

Producers: Robin Hilton, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Bronson Arcuri; Editor: Morgan Noelle Smith; Photo: Raquel Zaldivar/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

The Nate Smith Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 14, 2017. (Christina Ascani/NPR) Christina Ascani/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Christina Ascani/NPR

Review

Tiny Desk

Nate Smith + KINFOLK

The drums take center stage at this Tiny Desk. Watch veteran jazz percussionist Nate Smith dazzle the NPR audience in a transfixing performance.

Jason Isbell performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 30, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Jason Isbell

The Alabama singer-songwriter and his band perform three songs from The Nashville Sound, but their set includes a few surprises, too.

ALA.NI performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 20, 2017. (Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR/NRR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR/NRR

ALA.NI

ALA.NI captures and conveys a reverent love of early-20th-century music, while injecting those sounds with charisma and charm well suited for any era.

Maggie Rogers performs a Tiny Desk concert at NPR headquarters. Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Maggie Rogers

The rising pop star performs three of her best-known songs, including a sweet solo take on her career-making "Alaska."

Aldous Harding performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 6, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Aldous Harding

Intensity in songs often expresses itself as volume – a loud guitar, a scream, a piercing synth line. But in the case of Aldous Harding it's in the spaces, the pauses, and her unique delivery.

James Mercer of The Shins performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 19, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

The Shins

James Mercer, the emotional and creative heart of The Shins, gives a moving performance at the Tiny Desk, with two new songs and a classic from the band's 2003 album Chutes Too Narrow.

Albin Lee Meldau performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 12, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Albin Lee Meldau

Albin Lee Meldau possesses a thunderous, deeply affecting voice, which he uses to tell some utterly dark, but demonstrably cathartic, tales.

Rare Essence performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 9, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Rare Essence

Rare Essence has been bringing go-go to the world since 1976 — the group brought that pedigree, and the genre's massive meld of funk, rhythm and blues and soul, to this raucous hometown Tiny Desk.

Tuxedo performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 20th, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tuxedo

Tuxedo, the unlikely-on-paper funk-soul duo of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One, brought a left-of-center sonic approach and a sharp sense of style to their Tiny Desk Concert.

Fragile Rock performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 16, 2017. (Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Fragile Rock

Fragile Rock is a band that relies on the boogie of The B-52s, the melancholy of The Smiths and the humor of Kermit the Frog. Oh, and they're all puppets.

Back To Top