The Year of Hibernation
On The Year of Hibernation, Boise-based multi-instrumentalist Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, unveils a voice buried in synth that occasionally reaches out, as if straining through the clumsy cultural build-up of technology so intimately familiar to this generation. Youth Lagoon revels in such heartbreaking tension. Echo-y tones slide upon shimmering ones, soft handclaps build up a beat that then softly retreats like a lapping wave. It is tentative music, hesitant but not halting; it is childlike, but not quite precious, and perhaps deceptively so, with a complex, meticulously arranged mix of organ, pedal steel and vocal chants revealing songs that tiptoe into greatness. The appeal of The Year of Hibernation is its qualities of believable sweetness and that it doesn’t grandly insist upon itself, but in constructing such soft, if obsessive, sounds one wonders what precisely this music is designed to do. It doesn’t try for much; it explores the nature of calling out and then retreating. In this vacillation perhaps Youth Lagoon shows us something about the world we inhabit now, where we are so closely connected, but remain so far apart. Even so, these tensions play out remarkably on songs like “July,” which gets the aching and beauty of unresolved longing just right.