Trevor Powers' debut under the Youth Lagoon moniker was an encapsulation of his own move from the coast of San Diego to the arid, primarily rural state of Idaho; wispy pop transplanted into a stark landscape. Two years on, Wondrous Bughouse is an exploration of new territories that also feels like a retreat.
It contains neither the sparseness nor the more anthemic moments of its predecessor, instead feeling like much more of a cohesive piece, flowing like waves lapping. This isn't a wholly positive thing, however, and for much of the album not only is the palette composed of the same shades but the pattern of each song are very similar, and it becomes easy to predict exactly which direction Powers' will take.
The overall vibe of Wondrous Bughouse shifts from the Bon Iver-meets-Galaxie 500 lo-fi introspection of his debut Year Of Hibernation into a sunnier, more expansive and more expensive sound. It bears a strong resemblance to Dr Dog's "Fate" and The Ruby Suns' "Sea Lion", and in the context of these releases Wondrous Bughouse does sound dated, but here the edges of the pop blueprint are filed down and hooks are obscured than its closest points of comparison.
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Like Jack Tatum's Wild Nothing or Mike Hadreas' Perfume Genius, or even in its infancy Peter Silberman's The Antlers, Youth Lagoon is a semi-autobiographical project, one which allows its protagonist an outlet close enough to allow for intimacy but just about separate enough to help ease any personal insecurities or nervosas. Trevor Powers, the 22 year old Californian at the helm of Youth Lagoon, has laid his experiences of extreme anxiety in past interviews, and his début The Year Of Hibernation is a ghost-written account of such struggles.
Continue reading: Youth Lagoon, The Year Of Hibernation Album Review