Youth Lagoon – 'Wondrous Bughouse' album review

Trevor Powers suffocates his sensitive songwriting in a psychedelic fog



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Youth Lagoon – 'Wondrous Bughouse'

  • Rated as: 3/5

The talent behind Youth Lagoon is sensitive Idahoan soul, Trevor Powers. His name sounds like he should be a top door-to-door double-glazing salesman, but he's eschewed the commonplace altogether on second LP, 'Wondrous Bughouse'. This is a record that suits the label 'hypnagogic pop' (hypnagogia being the transitional state between sleep and waking) better than most in the same field, on which Powers explores the outer limits of sleep-induced grogginess and its scary and, indeed, wondrous possibilities.

The album is clearly indebted to the more psychedelic music of The Beatles and The Flaming Lips, but perhaps the best touchstone is 'The Magic Roundabout'. So much of 'Wondrous Bughouse' sounds like the opening to that classic kids' TV show – all jangly and distorted like a record spinning on a wonky turntable. Within this thick, sonic fog Powers' words are frequently lost, though his lyrics do occasionally hint at the dark side of his mental state: 'You have made a grave mistake,' he intones on 'Sleep Paralysis'.

Ultimately, Powers' sensitivity as a songwriter is suffocated by the constant reverb and trippy atmosphere, which is disappointing. The one moment when his vision of a Neverland inside his own head seems within reach is the beautiful 'Dropla', on which he repeats 'You'll never die, you'll never die…' with gathering intensity over twinkling, otherworldly melodies.

If Powers is attempting to sell us any sort of window, it's the one that opens onto his soul. It's just a shame it's so smeary.

Watch Youth Lagoon's 'Montana' video

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