ALBUM: Wondrous Bughouse
ARTIST: Youth Lagoon
An experience that captures the physical and spiritual essence that life can be composed of; Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse is an ethereal album that explores the metaphysical. Its dreamlike nature is its curse as well as its blessing, being what stuns but also bewilders. Trevor Powers, who gave birth to Youth Lagoon in 2011, has created a unique, whimsical second album that explores life, death, and all its complications as well as possibilities. With strokes of lyrical brilliance and experimental production, Wondrous Bughouse strays a little bit from Powers’ signature sound that was produced on his debut album, The Year of Hibernation. Not being as simplistic and modest as his first album, his second plays around with a more chaotic vibe and ambiguous lyric content. This cultivates the paradoxical nature of the album, as the psychedelic pop is mesmerizing, yet inaccessible; the poetic nature of the album is beautiful but only from a distance.
Powers’ production has evolved from simple pop beats and charming piano riffs to a clearer sound on tracks such as "Mute" that do not sound as muffled and minimal to tracks such as "Daisyphobia" that seem even more cosmic and complicated in structure. What Youth Lagoon has done well over the years is expanding on its sound and focus. It does not seem as experimental and unstable, yet still has a disjointed feeling. Some tracks sound like two different songs altogether glued into one and some tracks just sound like a galactic trip like a flashback to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The range on this album is more developed with topics of religion and death plagued all over. The album is reflective with no real destination, again its biggest achievement and downfall. From lyrics like, “Mortals, we are mortals on the run/ God you’ve seen what I’ve done/ you know where we come from/ and yet we’re children of one” on Daisyphobia to “A pause in speech/ all mouths watering/ the gardens of the Earth/ it blooms in the seed/ I welcome the leech/ that lived in your birth” on Third Dystopia, some content is more obscure while others are thought provoking and straightforward.
The album contains triumphant achievements with tracks such as "Raspberry Cane" that is one of the best produced of the album with its delicate piano details and hazy sound, the content is also great as Powers sings of life and death. It encompasses the perfect combination of dream-like and pop aspects without being too subdued. Pelican Man is another winning track that sounds like a modern I Am The Walrus. But feels inconsistent with "Third Dystopia" and "The Bath". The album is an adequate second album that does not underestimate the sound or style that Powers is known for, but its incongruent nature and thick accessibility leave it far from perfection. What Youth Lagoon has put forth is a spiritual album that is beautiful nonetheless, and with the progress that has been made thus far in production shall only lead to a clearer destination for their third album.
“Mortals, we are mortals on the run, God you’ve seen what I’ve done, you know where we come from, and yet we’re children of one”