Album Review: The Year Of Hibernation – Youth Lagoon
As a fan of analogies I’ve got a pretty good for one the anticipated debut from Trevor Powers aka Youth Lagoon. The Year Of Hibernation is like a well calculated and executed game of chess, although the consideration is there and the majority of moves provide good results, the man making the moves is far too quiet and clinical in his approach. Where Powers surpasses a lot of his indie pop contemporaries in terms of technicality, at times it seems like there is more logic than passion at play.
The key ingredients to The Year Of Hibernation are once we’ve heard a lot over the last couple of years, but its not what you’ve got rather than what you do with what you’ve got. A lot of his peers before him have a tendency to over indulge in certain elements, reverb being a big one. But here it feels like Powers has a lot more control of his tools, he seems like a man who definetly knows what he’s doing. Rather than max out a small number of instrumental techniques he has fine tuned several to a level where they can be effective yet efficient. If you’ve heard any of his previous work or any of the singles released from the record so far you’ll no doubt realise that there is a very dreamy essence to Youth Lagoon. But rather than rely on that solely he has built up several supporting systems to help keep the flow of his compositions rigid and multi faceted. Hibernation is like the careful calculated work conducted behind a chemistry set of sound, Powers is experimenting with liquid elements in his use of hazy synth patterns yet gives the composition structure and substance through the inclusion of pretty solid drum beats and guitar riffs which tend to float between the two.
Preparation is indeed the best cause of prevention and Youth Lagoon is a musical outfit with a refreshing and integral pragmatic quality. However as nice and catchy some of his simple melodies be, and as appeasing as the building up and stripping down of layers may be, for me at least the record lacks a degree of emotion. Seventeen is the only real exception to this particular rule but then having said that it seems to be trying to somewhat emulate the sound of Mr Peterson by Perfume Genius. His hushed, reverberated voice works well within the confines of his chosen instrumentation, but to me its not tender enough to be emotionally provocative and not strong enough to be empowering. It lies like a good amount of his songwriting somewhere vaguely in between.
Youth Lagoon makes the right moves and clearly has its head on its shoulders, but to make a deeper impact it needs to follow its heart a little more, be a little more care free. If it does this then it might be able to puncture through the surface and find something more meaningful.