Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse

YLWhen my brother, Joey Svendsen, asked me to contribute to the Un-Learning series of record reviews, I began to take mental inventory of those albums from 2013 that have made the greatest impression on me thus far.  In short time, I fondly settled on the first record that truly wowed me this year:  Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse.

Significantly different than the bedroom pop minimalism of his 2011 breakout record The Year of Hibernation, Trevor Powers (the artist behind Youth Lagoon) offers Wondrous Bughouse, a beautifully composed listening experience that warmly envelops the listener with lushly produced layers of sonic wizardry—whooshes, blips, and crazy effects galore.  But amidst the gorgeous craziness of all the sound, Youth Lagoon never neglects the fine art of songwriting.  Each song ebbs and flows from delightful movement to glorious crescendo.

Though initially some might find this to be a bit too “sugary” in its sonic beauty, after repeated listens, one will find complexity in mood matched only by the complexity of the album’s sound.  There is an unmistakable sense of nostalgia, wistfulness and dare I say optimism that permeates each of the ten tracks.  The patient listener is rewarded as the tremendous depth of Powers’ art gradually unfolds.  This is an art rock record of the highest caliber.  Finally, the vocals, which may take a little getting used to for some (I enjoyed the performance from the get go), serve as an integral layer to the overall sound of the album with its ostensibly processed and trebly sonic texture.

Admittedly, this album may not be for everyone although my 11-year-old daughter has whole-heartedly embraced it.  But I recommend this without hesitation to anyone that is the least bit open-minded about exploring new music.   It is an infectiously challenging album that will leave you humming along long after the laptop has been put back in its carrying case, the iphone has run out of juice or the car’s audio system was shutoff when the keys left the ignition.  Check it out—I dare you.

What do you think?

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