Small Town Claustrophobia Versus Possibility of Wide-Open Spaces: A Review of Youth Lagoon’s The Year of Hibernation

Awhile back, Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon posted this facebook status: “ATTN: I’ve been trying to make this clear for months in interviews, but to those who still don’t know, this album wasn’t recorded in my bedroom, but at a close friend’s house. I wrote all the songs and crafted them in my bedroom.” Despite how much he says that, I believe that the sound of Youth Lagoon snuggles comfortableness in the personal details of a bedroom. After all, how else can you explain this feeling of hushed intimacy and the reverberating sound of nostalgia that drips out of the songs?

When doing a little surfing on the web for some more Youth Lagoon info, I came across an interview conducted by Spin magazine. Turns out that much of the album material originated from a moments of anxiety and profound sadness.

Powers recorded the LP in his room, basing the dreamy piano pop on personal concerns, including his longtime struggle with debilitating anxiety. “I hid it from my parents. I would have panic attacks in my room before bed over things that don’t make sense to the average person,” he says. “One of my fears was that I’d die before Christmas. I’d think about it so much that I couldn’t sleep and it would overwhelm my mind.”

And the twinkling nursery rhyme-tinged “Afternoon” was inspired by a similar fear: “I was away from the person that I loved for an extended period of time, and I was dealing with a lot of anxiety because of it. I kept thinking that I wouldn’t see her again. I was having unreasonable worries that I would come back and she wouldn’t be there…. I just want to present music in a very honest way.”

“July,” for instance, compares two very different Independence Day holidays five years apart: “One was a beautiful day hanging out with people that I love, and the other was very hard. I remember sitting in my backyard and crying while the fireworks went off. I hate to be cliché, but it was a girl [laughs].”

Another album gem, the reverb-y ballad “Montana,” is “inspired by a conversation I had with someone wearing a ‘Montana’ sweatshirt. The conversation was really difficult; lots of tension and heartache. I remember thinking it might be the last time I see that person, so I took a mental picture in my mind of everything. The song is about that conversation.

I’ve put many of Youth Lagoon’s songs on repeat status for the longest time, but I still struggle with deciphering the lyrics of the reverb. At this point in time, I’ve resigned myself to just listening and appreciating the music offered and making what I will from there. You know, now that I know the context in which the songs come from, I can’t help but really notice the honest and personal manner in which Trevor Powers presents himself. His musical foundations are rooted in the  anxiety of his younger years, but his actual sound tries to rise above it (as seen by the song “Afternoon”, which just begs to be released from its delicate, whistle-and-electric-keyboard opening into its grand, swelling conclusion). The indie blog world has been fully captivated by Youth Lagoon (hell even Pitchfork has jumped in on the bandwagon), and I wonder how Trevor Powers is going to use this massive change in his life to alter his sound in the future. For now though, it’s perfectly fine to appreciate him for what he is now.

Summary: Delicate keyboard openings that create a sense of warmth and yearning and eventually builds up to grand, uplifting conclusions. A definite must listen.

MP3 Montana

MP3: Youth Lagoon – Afternoon






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