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‘Wondrous Bughouse’ centers on instruments rather than lyrics

Written by Anthony Drake


Youth Lagoon, Trevor Powers, is a musician from Boise, Idaho. On Tuesday he released his sophomore album entitled “Wondrous Bughouse.”  His last album, “The Year of Hibernation,” was released on Sept. 27, 2011, after signing to Fat Possum Records.

“Wondrous Bughouse” is a psychedelic, dream pop album. The track “Through Mind and Back,” starts off the album.  It is a two-minute instrumental track and starts off with some sporad c and disjointed guitar picking along with a mixture of other sounds. Towards the end of the track, a robotic bass comes in and goes back and forth from the right speaker to the left—almost dizzying.

The track “Mute” comes on next. The track kicks in with drums playing a steady beat.  This track is very glowing. Trevor’s voice is drowned out by reverberating guitars and samples of glitched and distorted strings.  All of this instrumentation builds and creates this wall of sound that can become somewhat chaotic at first listen.

The third track on the album, “Attic Doctor,” starts off with some nice tambourine, rattles and other percussion that seems gypsy-like. The vocals on this track have that nice psychedelic effect. When I first heard this track, I had to check and make sure I wasn’t listening to an album by Animal Collective. The vocals and instruments were really reminiscent to something Animal Collective would produce for one of their albums. This song gets to some points where it becomes a wall of sound – similar to “Mute.”

“The Bath” is next on the album. The vocals on this track are sung in almost a whisper. The track starts off with this mellow dreamy sound.  Half way through, it starts to speed up faster and faster, chugging along to finish off the track with his voice back at a whisper.

The next track, “Pelican Man,” starts off with dreamy synths and then the guitars come back in and the percussion begins. This is the first track in the album to really have a distinctive hook to it.

“Dropla,” track 6 on the album, starts off with some sleigh bells as well as the drums and plucked guitar. Youth Lagoon gets rid of some of the excess noise from the past tracks and starts to clean up the sound a little more. You can now start to make out each instrument and melody being played. This track is really upbeat and moving. I started to notice myself head bobbing and really getting into this track, just on my first listen.

Youth Lagoon turns up the psychedelic vibe a little more with the next track “Sleep Paralysis.” This track starts off with this raspy, grainy and crackling melody that almost sounds like a tune I would expect to hear at a carnival. Surprisingly, Trevor’s vocals can be heard clearly enough– even through all of the excess noise. Then, all of the sudden, the guitars and drums come in breaking through the crackle. The song then ends the way it started, with the same disjointed and crackling melody.

“Third Dystopia” comes in next with its more up-tempo vibe. This track is similar to “Sleep Paralysis” with the crackling. Youth Lagoon’s vocals on this track are harder to hear, because they are mixed into the noise and drone of the instrumentation going on around him. The ninth track on the album is “Raspberry Cane.” This track is very Shoegaze like, because of all the reverb added to the instruments in the beginning of the track. The vocals are also toned down and are almost at a whisper again. The guitar playing is very clear and crisp however. The track is really sluggish in the beginning, but starts speeding up after the intro, similar to how it is with “Dropla.” Later on in the track, the reverb kicks back in and the track bursts with sound. The bitter sweet melody finishes off the track as it fades away.

Finally, the track “Daisyphobia” comes in. It starts off with this drone of sound. You can hear a piano playing in the midst of all of the drone. The piano begins to make its way through the entire drone, and eventually pushes it all away. Percussion and guitar start to come in to accompany the solo piano playing. The drone starts to make its way back at the end. The song eventually ends with a high pitched drone as it fades away completely.

This album has an overall psychedelic tone to it. It is just glowing with sound. It also has that Shoegaze vibe to it, because of the reverberation of sound. My main complaint with this album as a whole was that the songs were too drawn out and seemed to become more of filler than anything. I think Youth Lagoon did this to further progress and build the instrumentation on each track. Most of the tracks focused more on the instrumental side rather than the lyrics being sung anyway.

I give Wondrous Bughouse a 7.7/10.

What did you think if you listened to the album, and which album should I review next?


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