The development of Mike Hadreas, the Seattle-born indie musician who performs as Perfume Genius, has been marked by progression toward a more ethereal, otherworldly sound. Based in the artist’s personal experience of homophobia and addiction (he also suffers from Crohn’s disease, a painful and incurable immune-related illness), Hadreas’s songs are well versed in bodily agony, but the title of No Shape, the album he released this year to immense critical praise, suggests how music, as a series of bodiless, unbounded waves, has become his primary hope for deliverance from the agonies of life lived within human limits.
Still, though it’s easier to forget for some than others, the body isn’t completely nightmarish. Released today, the video for No Shape’s “Wreath” is a tribute to the human form’s capacity for invention and variety. There had been a contest; fans were invited to submit videos of themselves dancing to the song, and the video is a compilation of their best moments. The abundance of different figures, in different clothes against different backdrops, shows off the power of music to lead people at once out of their bodies and further into them. Music is invisible and incorporeal, but dance is embodied song, something to behold. One can almost overlook, seeing so many bodies in joyous motion, that the titular wreath is funeral-related. Perhaps the message is that life and death are less important than one’s ability to say yes to both equally?