Shaved asparagus salad with anchovy vinaigrette will probably sound delicious to some readers, and probably unappealing to others. Nonetheless, as one who describes himself as anti-asparagus, I promise you: this is a recipe worth trying. Despite the small number of ingredients involved, there is a lot of flavor in this recipe – flavors that blend together to create something new and exciting. Similarly, some readers will see the words “home recordings” and may foolishly tune-out the haunting, achingly-beautiful ballads of Mike Hadreas’ (aka Perfume Genius) first album: Learning. It is a quiet, simply constructed album of home recordings, but despite the unadorned arrangements, Learning sounds completely fleshed-out and engaging.
Hadreas recorded Learning while self-imposed exile in his mother’s home recovering from a lifestyle he had come to recognize as self-destructive. A lifestyle seemingly designed to avoid confronting Hadreas’ inner demons and some of the ghosts he carried with him. And based on the emotional weight and earnestness of the lyrics featured on this album, Hadreas found the strength to confront those demons through his song-writing. These recordings are sparse, and the melodies are frequently carried by little more than his occasionally overdubbed voice and a catchy piano line, such as on tracks like the raw, but lovely “Mr. Petersen” and the evocative and ghostly “You Won’t B Here.” Nevertheless, where the album lacks instrumentation, it more than makes up for it in emotional depth. Hadreas’ voice somewhat calls to mind Sufjan Stevens’ early recordings while the unexposed sincerity of the songwriting calls to mind early Elliott Smith. Of course, it is far too early to suggest that Perfume Genius is in the same league as those Stevens or Smith, but without a doubt, Learning suggests that the potential is there. Buy the album from Insound.
Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for the shaved asparagus salad with anchovy vinaigrette.