6/26/13

Lyric Man (Amouage)



Lyric Man is a testament to the greatness of modern perfumery. It is inventive, culturally invaluable, and endlessly interesting. The world of rose soliflores and chypres abounds with examples of what I call "obvious flowers," fragrances that exhibit analogs of true rose via rose materials, usually damascenone and real rose oil. My reference for true rose is Tea Rose by The Perfumer's Workshop, and I challenge anyone to name a better soliflore. There are rose soliflores that are as true as Tea Rose, like Red Roses by Jo Malone, and Guerlain's Rose Barbare, but thus far I have not encountered a scent that surpasses Tea Rose. That doesn't mean a truer rose does not exist - it just means I haven't encountered it yet.

I apply the same open-mindedness to my experience with the other category of rose, i.e., rose compositions. These are usually chypres, but sometimes take the form of orientals and fougères. Scents like Pinaud's Clubman, Azzaro's Acteur, and Lauder's Knowing inhabit a space different from the soliflore, taking facets of rose and utilizing them as accents to broader flourishes. Clubman's rose illuminates the powdery, mossy-woodiness of the fougère. Acteur's is aromatic, and bridges cardamom and fruity notes to darker patchouli, oakmoss, and woods. Knowing lets its rose peer gently through a classical chypre structure of labdanum and moss, with just enough body to filter its ruby rays past the green. In each case the flower is noticeable, but not overwhelming. Lyric Man uses rose in an oriental manner, letting its velvety texture waft through a two-tiered structure of citrusy green notes and a dry, resinous woody amber, mostly incense, vanilla, wormwood, and Australian sandalwood.

The trick with Lyric is to recognize that it is a composition with a soliflore development (from a distance of six to ten feet - that's right, six to TEN feet), which resembles an old and bitter flower, aged to the point of being dry, and a bit stinky. I wore Lyric to work today. I was in the office for five minutes, when a female co-worker walked in and said, "Oh, god! What's causing that stench?" I grinned. "Uh-oh, it could be me." She walked over, sniffed me, and said, "Yeah, it's a sweet smell, but underneath is this burning thing. You don't usually smell that loud!" At that point Lyric had been on my skin and shirt for an hour. My colleague likes perfume, and is usually complimentary, but Lyric was definitely not working for her.

Two hours later another co-worker walked by and said, "Oh, what smells so good?" I raised my hand, and she added, "That's nice. It's really pleasant, really soft." I took this to mean that Lyric had progressed enough to soften its blow, and its drydown was offering up some pleasant vibes. What surprised me is that she was about ten feet away when she commented, and Lyric had been on me long enough to be a skin scent. Apparently Lyric Man does not do "skin scent." Lyric Man can kiss a woman's nose from ten paces, and without the advantage of a moving host - I was standing still when she noticed me. Reviews for Lyric are mixed, and my experience with it has been mixed, but I still like it quite a bit. It starts with a nice burst of dry lime and galbanum, followed after twenty minutes by a rich fir note. The fir is woody, with the requisite dry-fresh appeal of your average pine note. Ninety minutes in, the incense reveals itself, flanked by saffron and nutmeg (I get nutmeg, mostly). Through every stage of development gleams a bitter, flinty, almost herbal rose note.

Longevity for Lyric is good. It remains noticeable for a solid twelve hours with moderate application. However, it quiets down at the six-hour mark. Comments ceased, the potential for compliments diminished, and I had a little difficulty finding it on my shirt, although it was still radiating softly from skin. As it ages, the rose becomes more prominent, and gives me a feeling of papery crispness, a dry, sour, almost unfriendly aroma. It's almost mean, but not quite. Despite its aridity, its quietness is so measured and well-judged that Lyric never loses its balance. Amouage scents exhibit a Middle Eastern rendition of rose, which is not the sweet, fruity Western idea, but rather a dark, dry oil. It blends nicely with fresh incense and a spiced nuance of sandalwood. Because the note separation in Lyric is so good, exploring each note is not only possible, but necessary for full enjoyment. I spent a solid two hours marveling at the distinctions between fir, vanilla, incense, rose, spices, musk, and woods.

I've decided not to purchase a full bottle of Lyric Man, but if I come across another sample or a decant, I will spring for it. My co-workers' assessments seemed both damning and apt: Lyric is sweet and sour, with a strident bitterness that makes it stinky to some, and approachable to others. I think Lyric is Daniel Visentin's poetic take on rose, with the flower's musty, peppery, and musky facets brilliantly combined to form something old and new. It's the long way around to rose (Western iterations mark the shortcut). If any criticism should stick, it's that Lyric is needlessly stern (why not bend a little, and dribble some raspberry sweetness into the rose oil?), but it smells great from beginning to end, and warrants unlimited admiration and the utmost respect. I have not encountered a better rose composition, but I've hardly reached the end of the road. My journey continues.










4 comments:

  1. I sampled a few bottles from this line today and this one really stood out for me. I found it really unique and liked the rose note quite a bit. I feel like all of the perfume in this line really develops and has distinct stages. The prices are too insane for me but they definitely smell of quality that I don't think you find in too many other places.

    How does Tea Rose compare? I'm really interested in something along this line without the hefty price tag.

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    1. Glad you like this one, it's definitely a really good frag. It is very, very different from Tea Rose, though. The two share almost nothing in common, aside from being classified as "rose fragrances."

      I actually think you're better off exploring Azzaro Acteur for a comparable rose. Think woody-spicy, with a cool rose note. Haven't tried the new reformulated Acteur, but the older stuff was at least in the same ballpark as Lyric.

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  2. "If it intimidates him, he should assess everything in life that intimidates him, and reconsider the fragrance with a renewed perspective. Then he can stop being afraid, apply Acteur, and go forth."

    Well I at least have to try it then. haha

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    Replies
    1. Definitely give it a shot! Acteur needs a broader fanbase, I was really surprised when Azzaro brought it back because I thought it was a poor performer on their sales charts. One of the best frags twenty dollars can buy.

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