Like many native Boiseans, Youth Lagoon was something I was proud to say came from my hometown. Trevor Powers was a force, a truly dazzling songwriter. Each of his albums could stand alone – the first, The Year of Hibernation, was donned a masterful “bedroom pop” debut, and quickly caught the attention of outlets like NPR and Pitchfork. Songs appeared in TV shows and commercials. It was a fast rise, but deservedly so.
His second album, Wondrous Bughouse, offered a completely different sound. It was colorful, almost psychedelic. The songs conjured mental images of kaleidoscopes and late night pizza-induced dreams – a warped version of reality that, in its topsy-turvy presentation, offered deep meaning.
Savage Hills Ballroom, his third album, was, again, a change in direction. Many called it his most mainstream sound to date. It was your standard indie pop/rock, but the melodies were catchy, even when the themes dark. The songs still retained a uniqueness that resonated and cemented Powers as an artist that wasn’t going away anytime soon.
But then he did.
Many were devastated at the news that his third album would be his last as Youth Lagoon. I remember his final performance on Main Stage at Treefort in 2016. Knowing this was the end of the road, I cherished it. Everyone figured he would resurface one day with new work.
Today is that day.
Just hours ago, Trevor posted a handwritten note on social media. The text reads as follows:
“sisters + brothers,
there is a constant tug of war going on inside us all. inaudible voices that scream when we’re alone + mumble when we’re not. they push us + pull us in every direction. they are judges in every decision. they are as relentless as they are invisible. some are saints with dreams of love. others are vile, lusting for blood. joy vs terror. light vs dimness. wonder vs dread. we are people with many sides… many rivals within us.
i ended youth lagoon because it became a mental dungeon + i was its captive. my intention was never to keep it going – only to serve as a nod to the blooming years. it’s been said the worst prisons are the ones we build for ourselves/the barriers, rules, + regulations that we choose to live by out of fear of the unknown or because we think it’s what we’re supposed to do. but now i feel freed. this project is the beginning of something new; not the continuation of something old.
every person alive is full of opposing forces. paradoxes. millions of thoughts swimming around while we fish for one to act on. we walk a fine line between calm + chaos, + often forget there’s only so much in our control. the rest is like wind; impossible to predict + futile to hold. it’s in this space that i have been spending time writing. i’ve been learning that love cannot exist without nightmares. peace cannot exist without pain.
it’s in this space that i present to you… playwright.
Following the post, Powers released a music video for his newest song, “Playwright.” It looks as though he may be going under his own name for this new project, though we can’t know for sure yet. The track is still dreamy, a callback to The Years of Hibernation, but nothing like it. This does not sound like Youth Lagoon. And that’s the point.
It’s dark. The underwater dancer seems trapped, even when surrounded by others who could help, she remains underneath – a captive, as Powers described himself. It’s still indie pop, but more powerful and forceful. This is Powers as we have never heard him. And it’s amazing.
Watching the music video below: