Trevor Powers, the man (or boy wonder) behind dream pop phenomenon Youth Lagoon, has said that he creates music for himself, as a personal emotional outlet. This inward approach is evident in his 2011 debut The Year of Hibernation, in which Powers used swelling chimes, whistles, and a childlike, dreamy croon to come to cathartic conclusions about his limited humanity. This is not to say that the album is not relatable–Powers’ naiveté is endearing, and it creates a pure, unique quality of sound.
Wondrous Bughouse, Youth Lagoon’s sophomore album released May 5th, drifts outside of Powers into a dreamy fantasy world. Powers has traded the precious, twinkling quality of his first album for subwoofer distortions and heavier drums. The 23-year-old’s sound becomes rougher, his voice more masculine, in an album that verges on the psychedelic.
The ambient, introspective “Through Mind and Back” opens the album, which then bursts suddenly into the beautiful, celebratory “Mute.” The track melds distorted bells with powerful drums, and Powers’ voice evokes Sigur Rós’ Jónsi in its gleeful naiveté.
Songs like the “Benefit of Mr. Kite”-esque “Attic Doctor” and “Dropla,” with its chanted repition of “you will never die,” recall places of childhood fantasy, like the circus or the playground. In fact, the entirety of Wondrous Bughouse takes its listeners on a journey to the outer spectrum of human possibility. While Hibernation was fragile and limited, Bughouse seems full of the glories of unlimited imagination, which seems like a good outlook for a young artist with the world before him.
Youth Lagoon will be performing at the Boston Calling Music Festival on Sunday, May 26th.