Artist: Youth Lagoon
Album: Wondrous Bughouse
Release Date: March 5th, 2013
Label: Fat Possum Records
Youth Lagoon started as a bedroom-recording project inside the wondrous mind of San Diego-bred Trevor Powers.
Transplanting to Boise, Idaho, Powers’ released his debut album Year of Hibernation in 2010, which garnered high praise for it’s minimalistic, dreamy sound, and quiet, intimate vocals.
Youth Lagoon’s sophomore album Wondrous Bughouse, adventures away from this quiet style into a more vibrant soundscape that straddles the dimensions between dreams and nightmares.
Bughouse begins with “Through Mind and Back”, a purely instrumental track of eerie, ephemeral sounds, straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock classic, and jumps into “Mute”, which is anything but. On this track it seems Powers has adopted a more positive, pop-riffled sound, toying with experimental and imaginative noise choices. From whistling and fuzzy jangles to distorted wind chimes, this track stands out as a feel good song where Trevor seems to find a distinct confidence, previously not shown.
Not all tracks are meant to feel good, however, as mid-album turns trippy and carnival-eqse, with tracks like “Attic Poor” and “Pelican Man” conjuring up circus imagery, ala The Beatles “For The Benefit of Mr. Kite”. Starting out as a psychedelic, dream-like experience, they soon dip dangerously close to becoming a bad trips.
But the album seems to come full circle towards the end, with a track like “Raspberry Cane”, which is the album’s longest and biggest tune. The song builds and breaks down so epically, it gives the sensation that the sun has finally came out, and things suddenly get very bright and clear. The entire album feels illuminated and seems to reach the place, between the dreams and nightmares, of pure humanity, where the physical and spiritual worlds meet.
Wondrous Bughouse’s sound may be sonically bigger than Year in Hibernation, but amazingly retains the intimate and pure quality that makes Youth Lagoon’s music so special and endearing. Trevor seems to be stepping out of his bedroom and tackling issues of the human psyche, showing his ability to progress his sound and his consciousness. We can only imagine what he’ll summon up on his next album.