Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom Review

Idaho’s Trevor Powers has embarked upon of Youth Lagoon’s third album titled Savage Hills Ballroom which was released last week and see’s him play out his intention to create subtle and delicate chamber pop with soft melodies and unnerving atmospheric surroundings. Whilst the intention to detail will be clear, is his very particular sound enough to keep the listener interested and engaged in a variety of ways?

The Knower’ features Power’s gentle, yet unnerving falsetto set around ringing samples and electronica, rattling percussion and solemn blasts of a trumpet. As the song progresses, standard percussion intervenes and the brass takes on a more prominent role, reaching higher notes. From this the song ends on an ever growing peak. A song full of interesting combinations to deliver his brutally honest and slightly pessimistic lyrical content on people’s misconceptions of themselves. As a track ‘Highway Patrol Stun Gun matches the sombre ballad-like piano chords and spaced out guitar parts of the previous single with a more slick, rhythmic, bouncing and reverberating electronic beat. The naïve and scratching vocals sweep through the floating, yet purposeful instrumentation for a well balanced track with tinges of dynamism and creativity in a subtle and soothing fashion. A very solid track.

With ‘Rotten Human’ he continues to deliver those delicate melodies and harmonies around a Dream Pop base of whirring synths and sonically charged, echoed guitars firing out from beneath it. This song generates a subtle culmination of energy via the steady motoring percussion that begins to build in the second part of the track. Tracks such as ‘Officer Telephone’ deliver those whirring and subtle sounds around a clear vocal before setting a course for a rhythmic and expanding sound. ‘No One Can Tell’ offers up more purely electronic affairs with the high pitched distorted synths playing off the warping lower toned chords. Some interesting combinations are offered up throughout the album with the steady sound mixed with more energetic beats and instrumentation. They are balanced well against the more ballad-type tracks, but these tracks are often a little predictable and stale and often devalue some of the experimentation on the album. The tone and feel of the album is also very rigid, but it is wonderfully produced and delivered; just not as engaging as a body of work.

Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom = 7/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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