Published Nov 21, 2011Youth Lagoon's critically fellated debut, The Year of Hibernation, is a headphone record par excellence. The work of 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist Trevor Powers, it's an echo-laden dream pop effort that teems with unabashed earnestness and intimacy. Thus, translating it into a Saturday night bar show isn't the easiest task.
Luckily, Youth Lagoon tracks typically follow a crowd-friendly trajectory, starting small and ending big, expanding like an upside down pyramid throughout. Writ live, that formula lent itself well to cranked volume and low light, largely overcoming the limitations of a two-man setup (Powers on keys and effects, plus a touring guitarist). For instance, highlight "Montana" began with sparse guitar and distant sonar sounds, eventually being overtaken by big canned beats and a choral sing-along. Rapid swaying and head nodding ensued.
Still, there was more to the gig than inertia. Wisely, Powers has recruited an all-star in cohort Logan Hyde. Whether offering incisive punctuation, flirting with skiffle runs or enduring downstroke marathons (especially on "July"), he was an invaluable asset.
Sonically, the combo owed plenty to Beach House with the ethereal dream pop of "Montana" and "Daydream" conjuring BH songs like "Zebra" and "Take Care." Powers's voice even channelled Victoria Legrand but with more Adam's apple and less fringe.
While an in-the-flesh drummer would have heightened the visceral impact, the songs' expansiveness, as well as Hyde's skill and Powers's multi-layered arrangements, made for a surprisingly rousing affair.