Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation (Lefse Records)
November 27, 2011 by Daniel Gill
It seems that promising artists are getting younger these days. Take 22 year old Trevor Powers- he might have a name that makes him sound like the lead singer of an ageing stadium rock band, but instead he’s the youthful face behind bedroom based dream-pop project Youth Lagoon. His music doesn’t match his age, and as the album plays along you realise he really has taken his time to perfect his craft. It makes me think, maybe the title of the album really is true, or maybe it’s just that boring living in Idaho.
Just like his older, dreamy electronic cousins Washed Out and Active Child, Powers isn’t one to hide his unique, squeaky, childlike vocals which happen to be showered in reverb (a common anomaly for all these artists now). There is a shaky nervousness about his delivery and this makes Powers appear shy vocally. Evidence of this is also in his lyrics for the opening track ‘Posters’ as he sings “You make real friends quickly, but not me”. It’s as if he is building a determined confidence as each song goes along… A confidence which is achieved by the end of the album (last song ‘The Hunt’ is where his vocals are at their most powerful), after he sings all eight tracks courageously and wonderfully.
No instrument in the Youth Lagoon arsenal feels out of place, and each one constantly finds the target. The heavy, militant hip-hop esque drums in ‘Cannons’ come out of nowhere, and drive the track thunderously to the end. ’17′’s saddening strings match Powers’ hook of “Don’t stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die,” to create a thoughtful and emotional track about childhood memories. There isn’t an instrument that stumbles around in any track, and I don’t think this is down to luck.
The Year of Hibernation is a debut from a young artist with a lot of potential. This multi-instrumentalist seems to be at the top of the class with his musical production, but shouldn’t be mistaken for just a young student finding his feet. Powers seems to be a veteran at this, and this album places him near the top of the pile in a growing genre that is filling up with artists every month you view a blog. Let’s just hope Idaho never picks up.