Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse (2013)


YOUTH LAGOON Wondrous Bughouse

01. Through Mind and Back
02. Mute
03. Attic Doctor
04. The Bath
05. Pelican Man
06. Dropla
07. Sleep Paralysis
08. Third Dystopia
09. Raspberry Cane
10. Daisyphobia


Remember YOUTH LAGOON? Two years ago when Trevor Powers’ alter ago released The Year of Hibernation. It very much demonstrates that he is not just a one trick pony, hushing any critics who may have been suggesting that YOUTH LAGOON was too derivative of bands like Beach House. Through this album Powers gives us a bittersweet introspection into the very diverse frames of mind of a fragile, yet humorous young man from Idaho.

The album title already summarizes the vibe and feelings that it gives across. It is indeed a wondrous compilation of sounds and lyrics, combining dreamy lo-fi psychedelic tunes looping around through each track with profound introspections on mortality and spirituality. Also, “Bughouse” is an old term for insane asylum, which is not ill fitting to the album, considering the cosmic soundscapes, synthesizer melodies and fuzzy atmospherics that give it a definitive psychedelic touch. To top it all off, the cover art derives from a book of psychedelic art from the 70’s, where this painting from a young teenage girl who has been hospitalized for heavy drug use was published. Yeah, there’s a lot going on on this record.

The purely instrumental album opener Through Mind and Back, although, starts out quite shy. It sounds like you were listening to it from behind a closed door, until it slowly but steadily kicks off and leads us to the second track Mute. This track clearly shows Powers’ progression in production quality as it sounds way cleaner that any release before. It has an infectious sing-along melody and upbeat drums which give the track a childish simplicity and thereby the potential to strike directly into one’s heart.

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And then there are the album masterpieces: Attic Doctor, Pelican Man and Dropla. On Pelican Man the instruments rattle their way throughout the song. You can hear spring loaded percussions-piano combinations and enraptured vocals that give the song a magical, almost mysterical, theme, because Trevor Powers’ vocals manage to create something that sounds both intimate and crowd pleasingly euphoric at the same time. Attic Doctor, however, with all it twirls and swirls and stomping beats strikes more because of its inviting character to dance and sing along.

Dropla, yet, shows another facet of Powers’ frames of mind. It deals with the observation of someone loved passing away on a hospital bed while watching. “I reach my arm across the bed and hold your hand […] you will will never die / you will never die /you will never die” ... With each repetition of that sentence, it becomes increasingly unclear whether he’s offering an easily broken optimistic promise or a fearful anxious wish. It carries you deep into Powers’ question of mortality and human spirituality and gives you an introspection of this adolescent artist thoughts and fears.

Powers stated in an interview: “A lot of this record was influenced by a fear of mortality but embracing it at the same time. Realizing that human life is only great because it is temporary. Experimenting with ideas about dimensions. I’m not a gifted speaker, so explaining things is difficult for me. But music always make sense”. This album has it all. Consider our socks well and truly knocked off.