Live preview: Youth Lagoon
A young multi-instrumentalist breaks out of his shell.
Fri Nov 4 2011
Some albums sound intimately familiar the first time you hear them, as if the songs had always existed in your head somewhere, waiting for you to play them. Youth Lagoon's The Year of Hibernation is one such disc. It doesn't measure up to the eye-popping zeitgeist glory of, say, Is This It, but 22-year-old Trevor Powers has no interest in copping the Strokes. He's just trying to create something that sounds like a furtive embrace, and he succeeds.
The album pieces together eight exquisite indie-pop headphone tracks that were made in a bedroom and beg to be listened to in one. "It's just me in my room with my eyes shut," Powers sings on "17," in far-away vocals that eventually creep toward an almost uncomfortable intimacy: "When I was seventeen my mother said to me/Don't stop imagining/The day that you do is the day that you die." Another song, "July," opens with muted synthesizers and veers into restless, butterflies-in-your-stomach warbles over a series of repetitive piano trills. It's hard to make out many of the lyrics, mostly about situations Powers is afraid of, and stories of oppressed anxiety. He's an expert navel-gazer, but he's also an early scholar of expansive melodies, which leap easily from whispered confessions to cathartic crescendos. And the feelings Hibernation evokes are clear and undimmed: the loneliness of youth, and a unique millennial nostalgia for what was never experienced in the first place.