Youth Lagoon
The Year of Hibernation


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matt Wolfe EMERITUS
June 20th, 2011 | 174 replies | 41,591 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Music for daydreamers. The ones paying attention, anyway.

Trevor Powers may be a year older than me, but already I can’t help thinking of him as a little brother. The 22-year-old’s solo project Youth Lagoon manages to burrow that bloodline-deep. This isn't just due to his fragile, slightly effeminate voice; full of quiet wonder, yet prone to passionate eruptions. Nor is it just the endearing playfulness of his melodies. It’s not simply the daydream haze of the reverb, the big-small magic of the song structure, the charmingly reverential apron-tugging of the influences, the anxiety which flows quietly beneath the surface, or the occasional flaw from an unconscious stubbornness. Of course, it is all these things. But it's something else, something grander which really brings about my big brother instinct.

The Year of Hibernation nuzzles into this nook of subconscious familiarity and makes its bed there. Lightly clouded by reverb after being recorded in a four-car garage, Powers' music sounds like the symphonies floating unconscious in the heads of daydreaming school kids. From the simple, mirthful melody which introduces Powers’ delicate voice on ‘Afternoon’ to the uplifting woah-ohs which see out the album, Youth Lagoon’s debut consistently delivers on the suggestion of its appellation: youth. The aforementioned ‘Afternoon’ positively beams optimism and irony-free cheerfulness, from the infectious, whistled melody to the late-coming drums, yet it does so in a way which escapes the bubblegum effect. The Year of Hibernation doesn’t lose its flavour and end up becoming sickly or an effort to sit through. It’s too mature, too charming an album for that. It just happens to also have been created by a guy who seems to possess the vision few of us have left: that of a kid.

It helps too that not every track is written in this buoyant vein. The one-two centrepiece of ‘July’ and ‘Montana’ not only evidence that Powers is capable of writing songs which captivate and delight in equal, slow-burning measure, but also that he can manage beautifully the representation of more troubling youthful emotions. The paralyzing anxieties of growing up are given their aural interpretation in the fragility of the record, and Powers is more anxious than most; there are sections where it seems as if the album might smash into tiny pieces at any moment. It's heartbreaking. But when Powers confronts and overpowers the "sickness in [his] head" with this brave optimism, with this strength he gathers from good memories, that's when the album truly flourishes. ‘Montana’ is especially moving as Powers croons in a slightly more morose tone over understated piano as the song's elements build. The bass pedal arrives to echo the piano, Powers' delivery gathers power amongst the handclaps and guitars, and yet, like ‘July’, the song's crescendo doesn’t feel cluttered, forced or trite. It feels like a genuine outpour. Because that's what it is.

At only eight tracks, however, the album is too short. In a way, that's a good thing. An unquenched thirst leave us desperate for more. But it would have been great to see more of Youth Lagoon in its youth, before the project blows up and one half of the name automatically becomes less significant. The other concern is one of repetition. The songs do suffer slightly from a lack of diversity, in song structure and in instrumentation. The drum machine beats most noticeably, by the end of the album, tend to drag. Their use varies slightly but not enough to make their repetition seem like an over-reliance. Of course, these are small issues that are to be expected from a debut, but, for some reason, I can’t help myself being quietly determined to make sure Youth Lagoon reaches its full potential.

I think that could be this grander thing. It's a thing I see in my actual little brother, and it's a thing I can see too in Youth Lagoon. Potential, and the desire and (I think) work-ethic to realize that potential. But it's not only the potential to genuinely be something original, something amazing which separates Youth Lagoon from other bedroom acts. Alone, it doesn't. It's when that lovely warmth, that enchanting optimism of the record is able to stimulate in its listener a craving to see Powers succeed that a brotherly depth is added to The Year of Hibernation; a depth which, really, I haven’t come across before. It’s something all Youth Lagoon's own.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
June 20th 2011



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

woah so glad you reviewed this, didn't think anyone else on staff had heard it. when i first heard "montana" i was completely enamoured

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

solidness
June 20th 2011



113 Comments


will check this out

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
June 20th 2011



862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i feel like enamoured was the word i was looking for the entire time i was writing. annoying!

i've been listening to this so much lately.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



7164 Comments


Album art fail.

Sleaper
June 20th 2011



3353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what is this like? review made me wanna check it out

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Tyler
Emeritus
June 20th 2011



7926 Comments


you're young bro

Sleaper
June 20th 2011



3353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck this is great... really really great

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
June 20th 2011



17920 Comments


he's older than me man

BallsToTheWall
June 20th 2011



44164 Comments


daydream haze of the reverb


sold. He's not older than me.

captaincrunch11
June 21st 2011



1198 Comments


You have me intrigued.

Sleaper
June 21st 2011



3353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i rekon u would like it chambered, the voice reminds me so much of someone else i just cant remember it..

Kiran
Emeritus
June 21st 2011



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the production is sort of like perfume genius except with good songs and not streamlined depression

sifFlammable
June 21st 2011



2741 Comments


"But it something else, something grander which really brings about my big brother instinct"

it is*

AggravatedYeti
June 21st 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so nice to see you reviewing again : )

I should probably get this (kiran I'm looking at you...)

Kiran
Emeritus
June 21st 2011



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i repped 'montana', 'july' and 'cannons' on our blog like two months ago yeti, get with the times man!

AggravatedYeti
June 21st 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh yeah those songs were great.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
June 21st 2011



862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i thought 21 was quite old for this place.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2011



7164 Comments


I really like this review.

And Ed Hardy Bikinis.

Sleaper
June 21st 2011



3353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeh, make that 2 ed hardy bikinis plox.
Need it via express... weekend is only 2 days away

brutebeard
June 22nd 2011



1655 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

getting




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