Twenty-two-year-old Trevor Powers, more commonly known as Youth Lagoon, set the bar high for himself with his first album, "The Year of Hibernation," which was released in 2011. His sophomore album, "Wondrous Bughouse," released March 5, includes 10 tracks. Most of them time out at over five minutes long, due to a shift of focus. Forget about remembering lyrics, because his tracks are far from sing-alongs.
Unlike most popular artists, Youth Lagoon focuses more on the musical composition, adding a refreshing element to today's music industry. His tracks, containing very few lyrics, are sung in a drawn out manner and are deliberately overshadowed by the unique, soulful sounds created. Music can be much more powerful than words, soaring past the mind into the soul. The music experienced in this album surpasses thoughts, allowing for mental relaxation, something definitely useful for an overly stressed college student.
He makes a dramatic entrance with "Through Mind and Back," a track completely absent of words. When listening, it's possible to imagine someone cautiously wandering through a dark maze, the beat marking every obstacle blocking the traveler's path. About midway through another element is added. It's a sort of crackling that seems to hasten the pace, as if something is in pursuit of the lone traveler. The last 10 to 15 seconds of this intro track transforms into a slower, more technical sound, like a robot coming to life. Maybe each obstacle succeeded marked a point of transformation into a more complex being, which was being haunted by its past. With a relaxed mind, greater ideas are accessible.
The second track, "Mute," is anything but quiet. It has an awakening feel to it, like it marks the new beginning of this transformed creature. This fresh start is happier, filled with more of a natural curiosity and less of the fear of what is to come. The powerful composition is accompanied by the undertone of droning lyrics, which are almost unnecessary.
On the contrary, the barely audible and seemingly whistled lyrics in "The Bath" elevate the track. Represented in this piece could be the ups and downs of life. The music starts off slow, as if the traveler is trudging through one of life's low points, but progresses into a heightened pace, like enjoying the peaks of the journey.
"Raspberry Cane," the longest tune, is a bit dark. Youth Lagoon turns up his own volume as he sings such lyrics as, "I'm polluted by my blood/ So help me cut it out/ And rinse it down the drain/ Everybody cares/ Everybody cares." The tune depicts the hopelessness one might feel when seemingly immobilized by an obstacle, but it is delivered in a tone saturated with a deep melancholy, not full of rage or hatred of life. Although the lyrics are dark, the delivery is peaceful; it's a sad thought being expressed, not the fulfillment of a paralyzing action.
This record, including the seemingly dark "Raspberry Cane," is perfect for bringing the listener to a tranquil, meditative state. It's an ideal choice to plug into right before a big exam, the stressful cram session, or even while drifting off to sleep. It won't bore you into a slumber, but it's reminiscent of Enya (minus the lovely voice) in the way the music calms the mind, which then calms the body.
"Wondrous Bughouse" was made available worldwide thanks to Fat Possum Records, which is deserving of elevating Youth Lagoon by featuring him as an artist. It can be purchased on fatpossum.com, fye.com and others.