Wondrous Bughouse is an album that from beginning to end fills you with joy. It comes over you in waves of awestruck and wide-eyed wonderment. Trevor Powers looks to the skies and questions whom or whatever may or may not be looking down on us. Where The Year of Hibernation was a quiet entry into a bedside journal at 2 am, Wondrous Bughouse is a technicolor daydream. It's a primal scream directly at the universe -which at it's core- is as univeral as it gets. Trevor Powers has given us what is bound to be one of best albums of the year. A kaleidoscope of sound and emotions, a Kool Aid acid test where no chemicals are required. Just open ears and an open mind.
`Through Mind and Back' is a carnival mirror. It's a distorted version of melody and harmony. You get the feeling the quiet, lo fi bedroom sound of The Year of Hibernation may have followed Powers to album number two, that is until `Mute' comes pouring from the speakers like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where we go from black and white to bright color. The sound is big, full, and immediate. Ben H. Allen's influence in the production and sound creating is evident. The twisty, wavering keys and chorused guitars shimmer in the air. This intense shift in the sonics for Youth Lagoon may be quite jarring for those that hold TYoH in such high regard. All I can say to them is stick with this record. Trevor Powers hasn't lost any of his intimacy as a songwriter. His paintings are as personal as ever; he's merely gotten a much bigger canvas and a more diverse palette of colors to choose from now. `Attic Doctor' is a bizarre carnival ride. A calliope run on nitrous oxide. It's sinister, sweet, and ethereal all at once. With its waltz time signature, ample amounts of ear candy, and dream-like haze, this song shows Trevor Powers can do more than quiet and intimate. `The Bath' goes back to a more refined, quiet sound, albeit with the sonic explorations skills of Ben H. Allen at Youth Lagoon's disposal. `Pelican Man' builds slowly into a cathartic release, giving a feeling that I can only describe as heart swelling. I've listened to this record several times now and I keep going back to one name: Brian Wilson. I can't help but compare Wondrous Bughouse to Wilson's long gestated and recently released SMilE. It's utter exuberance and child-like wonder pervade this record. This isn't a literal comparison. This is in spirit. I can't tell you how many times listening to this record I just stopped what I was doing and just let it wash over me. `Dropla' is the centerpiece of this record. A song about dying and what happens when we die. Or, maybe the anger and resentment we feel when someone we love dies. I don't know. It's a mantra of a song. I could picture a child repeating the line "You'll never die, you'll never die, you'll never die", at the bedside of a loved one, thinking in their heart it would make a difference in the end. It's a beautiful track that would never have had the weight it carries had it been recorded in the same lo fi bedroom fashion of TYoH. `Sleep Paralysis' sounds like a song beamed in from some other time, found on some radio frequency lost for years. `Daisyphobia' ends this immense album on a dream-like note. It's as if Trevor Powers is singing from the edge of a chasm, one that separates us from that euphoric dream world this album comes from and the world it leaves us behind in. Back through the looking glass you go, Alice.
Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, has made a beautiful record. Wondrous Bughouse is uplifting, melancholy, strange, and wonderful. It's also one of the best albums you're likely to hear this year.