Although critics heavily critiqued his debut album “The Year of Hibernation” as nothing more than bashful-bedroom pop, Trevor Powers aka Youth Lagoon came back with a vengeance for his second album, “Wondrous Bughouse’s,” released on March 5.
If Youth Lagoon’s first album reflected his quiet, shy and reserved nature and reflected the uncertainty of his age, barely 22 at the time, “Wondrous Bughouse” paves a concrete road for his newfound confidence. The album presents a surrealistic interiority of inner conflicts of the mind brought to life for 50 thought provoking minutes. The suppleness of the music spreads out around the listener, molding and rooting itself deeply in the brain so when the album ends, an imprint remains.
To try and pinpoint specific influences would be to try and count the individual droplets of a running faucet. There are fleeting traces of Death Cab for Cutie, Dr. Dog and Animal Collective, yet the sound moves beyond the norm. It is clear that Powers’ composition comes from an extremely evolved understanding of musicology, theory and classical studies. How else might he collide so beautifully the commercial with the abstract?
There is a metaphysical, hallucinatory-like clarity embedded throughout the spread of the album that is, at times, eerie. Despite this, it succeeds in a triumphant way. It allows the listener to physically and mentally experience the virtuosic transcendence of Powers’ mind.
One of the few albums released this year that could and should be played straight through, Youth Lagoon’s “Wondrous Bughouse” will attract mainstream attention while provoking a cult following that might just outlast the decade. Turn the lights down low, light a candle and enjoy Trevor Powers’ dream.
Benjamin Rader can be reached at Benjamin.firstname.lastname@example.org.