- 29 May 17
Pop introvert steps confidently from the shadows
Mike Hadreas has moved on from the cripplingly self-aware vignettes that were a staple of his early records. With an increasingly mainstream profile and oodles of critical acclaim – buoyed by the support of Michael Stipe among others – the Seattle-based songwriter sounds like an artist ready to take on the world. It’s quite a distance from his tortured upbringing in rural Washington State, where he was bullied viciously for being gay.
There were glimmerings of this more outward and confident performer on 2014’s Too Bright and its break-out single ‘Queen’ (“No family is safe/when I sashay,” he warbles triumphantly on the chorus). But now he steps fully into the light, with the by his standards exuberant No Shape – a project that holds its chin high and swagger steady.
The record is aswirl with big pop moments, from the dopamine assault of ‘Slip Away’ to the celebratory swoop of opening ballad ‘Otherside’ via the glammy Prince strut of ‘Go Ahead’. While some fans may lament the absence of the self-lacerating bleakness that made his early output so arresting, this is audibly the work of a musician riding a crest of confidence and possibility – making No Shape a great escape you’re cheering all the way through.