Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
(Fat Possum)
Words: Jordan Catalana


Critics and fans (myself definitely included) were more than skeptical in anticipating how Boise’s favorite new noisemaker Trevor Powers, under his moniker Youth Lagoon, would follow an unprecedented hit album cut while in college and recorded alone. While 2011’s Year of Hibernation was full of trance-induced lullabies and exaggeratedly bold drum machine beats that are fodder for “chilling,” Wondrous Bughouse matches whimsy with experimentation in a fuller way, resulting in songs with twists and turns that demand more attention from listeners. If Year of Hibernation was a sonically refreshing head buzz, Wondrous Bughouse is a full-body high.

Wednesday night Powers and a few new pals (I’m looking at you, Eric the drummer) played to a sold out crowd at Bowery Ballroom, and it was a much different show than when I saw Powers play last spring, accompanied only by a lone guitarist. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t totally freaked out by Powers physically, with his Bob Dylan hair, gigantic bug glasses, and oversized tunic, but it completely fits the bill for the spectacle of strange that was seen and heard. “Mute”, “Attic Doctor”, and “Dropla” are powerful standouts on a record that is, admittedly, not for everyone. The tracks trade monotone Grimes vibes for Pink Floyd-esque mood swings and make listeners feel like they’re exploring some vintage that’s just being spruced up in obscure Powers fashion.

For the Year of Hibernation fans expecting another low-fi soundtrack for dark, hazy rooms, Wondrous Bughouse could very well disappoint. With layers of instruments and creatively inconsistent timing, Wondrous Bughouse is, at the very least, something new and more ambitious for Youth Lagoon.

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