Mike Hadreas, better known as Perfume Genius, has released a new music video for “Fool,” his third single off Too Bright. Once again, Charlotte Rutherford directed the video, as she directed the video for “Grid” a few months before. Rutherford is a photographer and visual artist based out of London. Her aesthetic is playfully colorful, retro, and it flirts excessively with femininity. She has worked with Marina & the Diamonds, Little Boots, and Le1f. The “Fool” music video is another attempt by Perfume Genius heralding the feminine, the sissy, and the queer, and counter-producing it as an ideal.
The video opens with Hadreas in a white coat, blue jeans, his now-signature lipstick, and bronze rollerblades – of course. He moves around a suburban street in London, with close-up shots of his rear end. It then cuts to him cruising through a convenience store, with the back of his white coat reading, “Extra Special.” He effortlessly skates his way around the store, and drops some bills at the cash register as he sweeps on out. The cashier grabs the bills and holds them close to his chest, as if Hadreas is a local celebrity or some worshipped hero.
As the song takes a drastic switch, the video itself does, too. Hadreas’ words become echoic and almost indistinguishable. He goes from overconfident to self-deprecating in seconds. The music transforms to atmospherical as strings build up around him. Hadreas struggles to be heard over the insurmountable noise, so he wails. The video portrays this intimately, as Hadreas dances alone with a deep red boa. He then rollerblades into a church-like room, with a cross on a table surrounding by candles. Behind the table stand four men in black bird-like costumes. They are all painted, winged, and have beaks. Hadreas is on his knees, pleading with them as he holds up a toy, baby chick.
The song literally snaps back to its confident tone once again. Drums kick in, and Hadreas is now in a performance studio, where him and his winged friends dance in front of three judges. They are all in suits and appear executive-like. At first they seem displeased by them, until Hadreas crawls up on their desk, bending, stretching, and posing for them. They jump up and giddily throw money at him. The ridiculousness of the video is off-putting, but purposefully so. In fact, most of Perfume Genius’ new songs and videos are meant to make you think, look deeper, and question it. It’s in your face, confident, and has an air all its own. Like “Queen“ and “Grid,” you can’t just shrug off the song or say “I like it,” there’s more depth to it. It sits and stirs within you disparate emotions, and that’s exactly what Hadreas is trying to do.
The ending lyrics of “Fool” are, “I plume and I plume / like a buffoon.” To plume is to spread out like a feather, or, to feel great satisfaction. The video here allocates for both meanings. In a sense, Hadreas receives great pride in acting out of line. By pluming, he regains his self-confidence and the attention of onlookers. Charlotte Rutherford and Mike Hadreas deliver yet again another playful and offbeat music video with multiple, introspective layers for the viewer to dissect. Although the song has three distinct parts to it and the video replicates that, it’s a little too detached to fully understand or enjoy as one unit. However, it’s a clever addition to the visual element of what makes Perfume Genius so unique. The last shot shows Hadreas sitting on the judge’s table with the winged back-up dancers on their knees looking up at him. He once again regains his power, still in his rollerblades.