Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse

 

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If you’ve been following this blog it should be pretty clear that Youth Lagoon’s “Dropla” and “Mute” maid a great impression on me. These two epic singles marked a clear step away from the restrained lo-fi induced debut of The Year of Hiberniation, into a world of grandiose psychedelic tensions. We have witnessed this step before, when an artist takes his aesthetic from the bedroom into a full studio. What typically happens is the introduction of a more polished and “safe” version of the artist’s aesthetic, where there is the eminent risk of losing some of the original aptitude and creativity that might’ve been compelling in the firt place. This is not the case with Wodrous Bughouse. This is going from 0 to 100 in just two albums. What Trevor Powers created is a full-blown, maxed out album with solid experimental textures. More than anything, it’s adventurous and melodious. For historical references, you have to travel back to the late 60’s and revisit Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and blend it with the 70’s krautrock aesthetics of Can and Low-era Bowie. But it’s an album very much in-touch with the present.

The beauty of Wodrouse Bughouse is that it’s much more accessible then one might think. Everything from the first couple of chord of “Mute” to the wonderful robust melodies of “Rasberry Cane” is a journey of harmonious highs and lows, backed by the gorgeous bottom-heavy production of producer Ben H. Allen, commonly associated with the rich psychedelic ambiance of Deerhunter and Animal Collective. The choice of Allen as a sound engineer makes everything sound bigger and luxurious. It gives the inclination that we’re dealing with a full band, not a one man project. It also gives a great contrast to Powers complex lyrical narratives, dealing with mortality, detachment and other dystopic themes. Fitting since a “bughouse” is another word used for a “madhouse” or asylum. With titles like “Attic Doctor”, “Sleep Paralysis” and “Third Dystopia” it’s not hard to imagine the disintegrated surreal tension of Wondrous Bughouse. But it’s an album where the beauty-drenched harmonies greatly makes up for the lyrical gloom.

On Wondrous Bughouse, Trevor Powesr created a confident and fearless way of approaching songwriting that borrows from the past but stands firm and confident in the present. The end result is a highly compelling and original work of art.

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