In a world where a laptop can equate to a recording studio, commercially produced pop-music often becomes overcomplicated, engendered and obtrusive, and industry professionalism turns into audial garishness. Independent music too, with such vast quantities being produced, can, in some cases, fall down due to the poor quality of its recording, or more simply, the artist’s lack of talent. So to stumble across a home-recorded album that genuinely feels warm and heartfelt, and sounds spectacular, is really rather refreshing.
The Year of Hibernation does just that and it’s all the more impressive when you discover that it’s the self-produced, solo project of a 22-year-old from Idaho, USA. Trevor Powers’ debut L.P, under the recording name of Youth Lagoon, highlights the untapped possibilities of self-production. From the off, “Posters” encapsulates the atmospheric warmth and wholesomeness that the album thrives on, without appearing rough or brash. The distant, whining lyrics, signature to this genre of indie-pop, drift seamlessly over the low, wavering synth which all seem to waft from an imaginary, very much enticing, cubbyhole, before dropping into a Sigur Ros-like guitar riff that echoes across the crisp, clapping drum beat, and beckons you inside. The whole album reflects upon a homely reminiscence of youth and things past, drawing you unquestionably into Powers’ head. Much as its title suggests, listening to this record is a bit like crawling into a polar bear den and falling asleep next to your newly adopted mother. Not at all to say that this album lacks energy, the whimsical nature of “Afternoon” and “Daydream” allude to a more playful side of The Year of Hibernation. Upbeat tambourines, whistling and clapping throughout add pace to an album that often threatens to lull you into a slumber, albeit a welcoming one.
Without being as instantly bold as say, Wu Lyf’s Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, it is a soulfully complacent album, which carries much the same atmospheric effect. The Year of Hibernation seeps authenticity (undoubtedly ready to appear on the next hit indie film), and Powers’ keen ear for dulcet tones and dreamlike melodies will keep you lazily enthralled to the end.
Words: Ben Phethean