Youth Lagoon Gets Louder, Deeper, and Weirder on Wondrous Bughouse
Bigger, louder, deeper and weirder, the second album from Youth Lagoon is the sort of follow-up that exceeds its predecessor in every way.
Boise's Trevor Powers, 24, toys with expectations - both his own and those from the indie rock world that was watching his development closely - on Wondrous Bughouse, released in March by Fat Possum.
While Youth Lagoon's 2011 debut The Year of Hibernation sounds like exactly that, this new record is pop at its most fragmented - an ambitious sonic exploration of the human psyche that's always in the service of the melody, filled with experimentation in the service of the song.
Lyrically, Powers' first album stuck to themes of isolation and protection, a true sort of hibernation that reflected on not only his creation, but the mind from which it sprung. Wondrous Bughouse, referencing a quaint term for an insane asylum, is a second album about what can potentially go wrong with that sort of seclusion, when solitude can become a trap, when introspection turns dark.
"Youth Lagoon is something so personal to me because writing music is how I sort my thoughts, as well as where I transfer my fears," Powers explains on the Fat Possum press release. "I'm not a gifted speaker, so explaining things is difficult for me. But music always makes sense."
The lyrics come across like a brain scan that reaches beyond biology to reveal, if not decode, thoughts. Whether scattered thoughts given voice or transmissions from the subconscious, the words creep in like fractured dreamscapes, laced with suggestion but typically indirect. Powers' song titles, on the other hand, land meaning like punches: "Through Mind and Back," "Attic Doctor," "Sleep Paralysis," "Third Dystopia."
"I live in a fog, one that's foremade / While my physical body's turning in my grave / The spirit's forgiven, building in your brain / But it doesn't know how," sings Powers on "Dropla," before settling into a chorus--"You'll never die, you'll never die"--he repeats like a spell or a mantra.