I attempted to clarify what genre Youth Lagoon would be categorized under to one of my friends, only to catch myself rambling off everything from indie-techno to “like a futuristic-motivational-rock-kinda sound”. I’ve never had such difficulty defining a sound before, mainly because I feel like Youth Lagoon’s LP, The Year of Hibernation is far too intricately diverse to fall under just one genre. I tried not to let my instant enthrallment with the LP overtake my rationality, and mandated myself to listen to its entirety as much as I conceivably could before making a judgment. After weeks of scrolling directly to the Y’s when I turned on my iPod, I can genuinely say this is one of the best albums I’ve ever listened to.
Honestly, the first few times through The Year of Hibernation I could barely understand any of the lyrics, as the majority of them are presented in a tantalizing whispered pitch – but that somehow didn’t weigh down my contentment for the songs. If anything it seemed even more remarkable that I was moved by music I didn’t entirely understand. The only other instance I can think of a band subtly fashioning such a distinct sensation through their music is Radiohead (specifically the Kid A album). Showing a parallel to arguably the greatest band of the 21st century isn’t too shabby for a debut LP.
Throughout various moments the sound of this LP hits you as a resilient nous of nostalgia would. At other times the symphonic, serene rise of the thumping pace provides a sanguine boldness that feels more like a sentiment than composition. This LP is a musical flight that causes you to reminisce shortly, and then proceed on the inquisitive exploration into the world you have yet to uncover.
The Year of Hibernation is best when played loudly. The delicateness of some songs can be treasured only when your speakers are on full blast. It’s like taking binoculars to already decent seats at baseball stadium – you’re just increasing the delight. The absorbing keyboard mixes flawlessly with the parading drums and faint echoes to create anticipation on every song. On ‘Afternoon’, which is my favorite of the eight tracks, Powers luminously blends a whistling-like plunge between drum throbs and melodic synths. The build-up of the song is especially buoyant, yet never overextends itself.
Powers bound together this masterpiece of a debut with essentially no experience in recording or producing, and his motivation was merely an attempt to find remedy to his distress.
“My whole life I’ve dealt with extreme anxiety,” said the twenty-two year old Boise State student. “I sometimes feel like I’m literally being eaten up inside. So I started writing these songs. Not just songs about my anxiety, but about my past and my present. Songs about memories, and all those feelings that those bring. I know that if I can be honest about what is inside my mind, there will be others that will be able to relate to it”.
I don’t find this particular sentiment to be that unique among artists, but I do believe Powers’ ability to relay his own vindications to such imperious, and universally felt sounds is absolutely marvelous.
We all assume our strangest personal demeanors are exclusive to ourselves, when realistically there are countless others who have the same exact habits or sensations. Discovering your strange motives and sentiments aren’t really that outlandish is (and will always be) a very pleasing insight. I get a definite consciousness of this perception when I listen to The Year of Hibernation. It’s like the music says, “hey, you’re normal, everything is going to be okay”.
Powers was an ordinary college student before Pitchfork gave his LP an 8.4 Maybe that’s why his music sounds so authentic to me – because it absolutely is. Nothing on The Year of Hibernation was produced to please anyone other than Trevor Powers. The tracks are his confusion with the world, his childhood anguish, his curiosity about the unknown, and his ongoing endeavor to keep his chin up. I incline every kid in their late teens or early twenties to give this LP a listen, even if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea. It’s probably not desirable to play beer pong to, and it might not make your favorite radio station, but it’s music crafted by a kid that we can all slightly see in our own temperaments. Embrace the outcast in yourself.
***This story, along with other WSU related stories is available in this weeks’ WINONAN- available at every campus newsstand.