King Princess, perfume genius, they hate change – Gay City News
In July’s music roundup, we catch up with a breakthrough from hip-hop duo They Hate Change (with non-binary MC Vonne), a change of direction from gay singer/songwriter Perfume Genius, and the second album from the very publicized the gay and non-binary pop singer King Princess.
They hate change | “Finally, again” | Jagjaguwar
Although Tampa band They Hate Change have been making music for over a decade, their latest album “Finally, New” brought them to a new level of media attention. Much like Drake’s “Honestly, Nevermind” and Beyoncé’s single “Break My Soul” return to house music, They Hate Change draws inspiration from a wide variety of more underground club styles. Inspirations for “Finally, New” include Miami bass, jook, drum’n’bass and even prog-rock. Their music is much more uptempo than most current hip-hop. The voices of the duo, composed of Vonne and André, are sufficiently different to reinforce their chemistry.
“Breathing” changes rhythm halfway through, but “Reversible Keys” is the most complex song on the album. Not entirely instrumental, his voice is muffled and barely audible after the first few seconds. It goes through several passages, with a synthesizer melody dominating for a brief period, then buried by an increasingly loud and complex arrangement. They pay homage to punk band X-Ray Spex twice, first with a passing reference to their late vocalist Poly Styrene, then an entire song bearing the band’s name. Their flows match the rapid rhythm and jerky rhythms of their beats. Riding the groove of “Who Next?” would be a challenge for any rapper. The percussions compete with their voices.
They Hate Change really breaks new ground on “Sometimes I Hate My Voice,” where Vonne raps about gender dysphoria and an ever-changing identity, citing trailblazers and peers like transgender R&B singer Jackie Shane and singer/songwriter Laura Les. transgender producer of hyperpop duo 100 ges. In interviews, Vonne has spoken about her desire to talk about her identity with a positive perspective, telling the Quietus “On ‘X-ray Spex’, I say ‘Fenty all on my face, vintage jeans on my waist’, talking about my makeup brand of choice. It’s not about this long spiel about gender expression, or femininity, or whatever. I put it in there as a flex, like any “Finally, New” dodges hip-hop clichés — “Blatant Localism” brags about not showing guns in their videos — without self-righteousness, showing just how much They Hate Change needs to flex.
Perfume Genie | “Ugly Season” | Matador
Over the past few years, Mike Hadreas’ Perfume Genius project has become a staple of movie soundtracks and trailers. (“Fire Island” was the most recent.) His latest album, “Ugly Season,” won’t be played at high school dances, real or cinematic.
His music — and more so his videos — have always been linked to dance. The unusual nature of her latest album, “Ugly Season”, which draws heavily on classical composition, can be explained by its roots as the soundtrack to Perfume Genius and Kate Wallich’s 2019 dance piece “The Sun Still Burns Here”. He then reworked the music in the studio with his partner and musical collaborator Alan Wyffels and producer Blake Miller. This album was born from the difficulty of interpreting “The Sun Still Burns Here” after the pandemic.
Although “Ugly Season” is not entirely instrumental, Perfume Genius weaves its vocals with strings instead of trying to be heard above them. It reaches the top of its range, fading into an androgynous falsetto. The album stays away from the obvious “dance music” markers – in fact, it comes in at the fourth song before using percussion. With its piano and harp tracks, “Scherzo” could be a release on chamber jazz label ECM. Even the title track’s reggae-inspired chords go off in unexpected directions. The album emphasizes overall texture and structure far more than melody. “Cenote” closes everything on a calm note, halfway between Keith Jarrett’s piano improvisations and minimalist background music. Like the recent music of Circuit des Yeux and Lotic, which draws on classical music and opera, it delivers a new potential, creating a hybrid form.
King Princess | “Hold On Baby” | Zelig/Columbia Records
King Princess caused a stir with her 2018 guitar hit “1950,” which compared their unrequited love for one woman to life in the closed past. It went platinum. But while they received a huge amount of buzz around this time, with articles declaring them a queer icon and a modern-day rock star, their follow-up singles and debut album didn’t click with audiences to the same degree. No matter how much hype an artist starts out with, they need to sustain their interest over multiple albums to maintain a career rather than being written off as a one-hit wonder.