Personnel: Trevor Powers (vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion, programming); Logan Hyde (guitars, synthesizer, percussion); Heather McIntosh (cello); Ben H. Allen III (synthesizer, percussion, programming); Chandler Rentz (drums).
Audio Mixers: Jason Kingland; Ben H. Allen III.
Recording information: Maze Studios, Atlanta.
Illustrator: Marcia Blaessle.
Arranger: Trevor Powers.
Youth Lagoon's second album, Wondrous Bughouse, lives up to the first part of its name: the sheer amount of sounds Trevor Powers packs into these songs certainly inspire wonder. The Year of Hibernation hinted at the sonic depth and detail displayed here, but the size and polish of Wondrous Bughouse's arrangements make the album perfect for listening to under headphones, where every gurgling keyboard and rippling echo can really come to life. Songs like "Mute" show how far Powers has come since his debut album: full of sparkling guitars and limpid synths, it's a sonic cathedral rather than the hazy cocoons that used to surround his barely audible vocals. Wondrous Bughouse's upgraded production values don't do much to dismiss the comparisons to forerunners like the Flaming Lips -- indeed, Wayne Coyne and company would be glad to call tracks such as "Raspberry Cane" their own. However, the album's expansive palette also reveals similarities to Sun Airway's gorgeous surfaces, as well as to more traditional psychedelic pop; "Attic Doctor"'s resplendent harpsichords and the stomping beat and churning melody on "Pelican Man" make them seem like Magical Mystery Tour outtakes, while "Daisyphobia" could have come straight from Dark Side of the Moon. Some of the best moments use Wondrous Bughouse's massive sounds to convey the loneliness Powers evoked on The Year of Hibernation: "The Bath" begins with murmured confessions and a rickety keyboard melody, then slowly swells into an epic that retains that vulnerability. On "Dropla," Powers examines mortality and spirituality, chanting "you'll never die" in a way that's a little too frantic to be truly reassuring, but is powerful in its urgency all the same. An undeniably impressive-sounding album, Wondrous Bughouse will please fans who loved The Year of Hibernation for its intricate sonics. ~ Heather Phares