Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation

Youth Lagoon - The Year Of Hibernation (Fat Possum)
If you’re looking for a simple way to grade your enjoyment of Youth Lagoon, it’s in direct correlation to how much you flinch at the label ‘dream pop.’ Nothing? Ok, how about ‘chillwave?’
Make no mistake, a glance at the musical heritage of Trevor Powers – the man behind the moniker – reads no differently from the recent swathe of lone Americans producing warm pop from the lo-fi confines of their bedrooms. Not such a surprise, the clue’s in the title. But even for those who struggle to distinguish Washed Out from Active Child, The Year Of Hibernation represents an accessible entry point to a genre filled with intimate rewards.
That seems like a bizarre recommendation, but Powers uses genre broadstrokes – nostalgic lyrical territory, swooning melodies, hazy production and vocals that are as naive as they are distantly fuzzy – to great effect. At its best – namely the soft ebb of Cannons or the blossoming warble of Daydream (of course there's a track called Daydream...) – it uses contrast to great effect. Rhythms punch through with distinction against a cloud of keyboard splotches, while guitars ring out as if played in the next room. It leans – perhaps too heavily – on a structural tendency to swell into enveloping, wordless choruses, but intimacy is the goal here. If the sonic equivalent of a warm, fuzzy blanket sounds appealing, then there are few artists better to rug up with.

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