Mike Hadreas—known to you and I as Perfume Genius—takes a bite from a sandwich. We're sat outside a café in East London and he's perfectly turned out, flashes of red nail polish adding some color to an otherwise black ensemble. He ruminates around the bread, an aura of delicacy surrounding him, discussing last night's show.
"I'm the worst judge of it," he says. "I look for different things in the performance. I'm very critical of myself. It was very quiet, which you hope is like, reverence, but you're not really certain."
The shadow of doubt and introspection is something that's peppered Perfume Genius' career. His first two records, 2010s Learning and 2012's Put Your Back N 2 It, were created while in recovery for drug and alcohol abuse, the albums lo-fi atmosphere exemplifying a confessional need for resolution and redemption. Like Hadreas they're delicate, moving, and inherently sad. His third album, Too Bright, isn't a sharp deviation from his previous work, but it does have a new forceful edge, stemming from his change in personal circumstance.
"When I was doing drugs and drinking the problems were very easy to see. And now it's more of a general fucked up-ness that hasn't gone away," he says, his voice wavering like he's told me something he shouldn't have. "It's harder to map, it's harder to sort through and the feelings are kind of all jumbled up instead of just a deep sadness because I fucked someone over, or because I choked somebody."