TUNES // Perfume Genius – Wreath

Post by Andrew Bundy

I lay back on the bed, my new blue headphones on. I start an album I’ve been obsessively listening to. Five tracks go by. I begin crying during the sixth. I press repeat and close my eyes.


I wake up in a hotel room I don’t recognize. Getting out of the bed is a struggle. I hunch my way over to the door, frightened. The pain is back and I don’t know why.

Burn off every trace
I wanna hover with no shape
I wanna feel the days go by
Not stack up

Out the peephole is an escalator instead of a hallway – it’s moving in the wrong direction. I attempt to get on it. The machine gets the best of me. It throws me back in the room like a treadmill that’s cranked all the way up.

I’m out of shape – so out of shape. I haven’t been able to exercise properly since messing my back up two years ago. I had another incident near the end of last year, couldn’t walk for days. Then that hairpiece turd got elected, I relapsed into smoking a lot and binge drinking again. I lost a form of release when I threw my back out – physical activity. I didn’t handle it well.

The batting cages down at Castle Park used to be my version of fucking the pain away, only I’d whack it away instead. Swinging puts too much strain on the weak area of my lower back now. I can’t recall the last time I even braved going. I’m too afraid of what might happen. (If I strain something I could end up immobile for weeks) I’m too scared to even try having sex again – not that it’s been an option since lumbering into the Echo with a cane, looking like every rocker gal’s ideal sex pot.

“What happened to your leg?” I’ve been asked too many times at the same few bars at the same venues.

Oh, how I wish it was just my leg. Oh, how lovely that would be. I can’t really blame these uninformed people though. We’re all guilty of assuming. 

Thankfully, I don’t need the cane anymore, but for a long while I seemed unable to break this cycle. I read minds, put thoughts in people’s heads, took things for granted, and never asked the kinds of questions that really mattered. I would judge a potential partner based on what their favorite movie was, or how often they actually sat down to read a book. Maybe I’m repeating that now? Maybe I’m repenting for that now? Maybe that’s why I can’t figure out how to escape this stupid fucking hotel with an escalator moving the wrong way.

Running up that hill
I’m gonna call out every name
Until the one I’m meant to take
Sends her dove

By expecting things of others I’ve been limiting myself.

I try to leave through the front door again. The struggle results in failure. A spasm takes me down. My body’s current state is no match for the ascending staircase.

How in the world am I supposed to get out of here?

I pull back the shades and look out the window. My room is fourteen stories up off the ground – I know this by counting each glass pane via the corner stairwell. A massive pool, no one is using, despite the wonderful weather, is down below. It’s shaped oddly, almost as if missing a center, though I can’t recall quite what I mean by that – maybe it was shaped like a ring? Or a figure eight, perhaps?

The next thing I know fear finds me again. But it wasn’t the same chill as before. No tingle ran up my spine.

I wasn’t afraid of the pain, I was afraid my life might end here, fourteen stories up, isolated, alone, insignificant. I was afraid I’d never meet another mystery someone I wanted to get to know me better ever again.

I see the sun go down
I see the sun come up
I see a light beyond the frame
I see the sun go down
I see the sun come up
I see a wreath upon the grave

I decided I wasn’t going to let that happen. So, I opened the window, aimed for the pool, and threw myself out of this mystery hotel room.

Cue Mad Men opening credits music.

I wake up in my actual bed and the same song I’d looped earlier is still playing. I sit up, relieved it doesn’t cause me distress as I do so. The nightmare is over, the pain is gone. For once I don’t need to force a smile.

“I am not a big fan of my body and would like to leave it. Not die, but retain all my thoughts and be free of my body.” – Mike Hadreas

Mike Hadreas, better known by his stage persona, Perfume Genius, is one of the most open, yet simultaneously intimate, contemporary song writers I can think of. He also, sadly, battles with Crohn’s disease. The track I had on loop, Wreath – from Hadreas’ new album, No Shape, is a magical little tune that turns the pain of wanting to leave one’s own body into a ballad, amping his physical frustrations into an astonishing catharsis so rousing you can’t help but want throw your arms up and chant along (please refrain from the former, if possible, whilst operating a motor vehicle). For me, it’s the standout track on his beautiful and unclassifiable new album. Buy No Shape here. Tour dates here


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