Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Album Review: Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse

On Trevor Powers’ first album under the moniker Youth Lagoon, he sang, “Don’t stop imagining. The day that you do is the day that you die.” If that’s the case, then Powers is very much alive on his follow up LP, Wondrous Bughouse.

The Year of Hibernation worked within a limited bedroom pop palette, but Wondrous Bughouse expands the music of Youth Lagoon into a myriad of vibrant hues. These colors explode on “Mute” creating a sense of wonder and scale. On “Attic Doctor,” Powers distorts them into an uneasy and frightening waltz.

Wondrous Bughouse is a psychedelic treat. Powers avoids strangeness for strangeness sake and uses his technicolor haze as a setting for his strong melodic vision. Songs like “Raspberry Cane” will bring to mind some of the magical mysteries of The Beatles.

The mind-bending sounds are the result Youth Lagoon’s imaginative perspective on the afterlife. Powers is fixated on death throughout the record. He hides from it (“Third Dystopia”), denies it (“Dropla”), and confronts the demons that can linger behind (“Pelican Man”). His last words before the closing “Daisyphobia” are “Here’s to Death, drink up.”

While dark in nature, Wondrous Bughouse has an air of youthful discovery. Powers is fascinated by his discoveries, good or bad.

With more complex compositions and better production, Wondrous Bughouse is a pleasing and imaginative step for Youth Lagoon.

Youth Lagoon will play the Cat’s Cradle on May 4 with Majical Cloudz. Tickets are $15.

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