Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #86: "Afternoon" -- Youth Lagoon

Youth Lagoon, the brainchild of Idaho musician Trevor Powers, released their first full-length this past fall with The Year of Hibernation, a synth-laden indie pop affair with understated guitar work and songs that sound like they took the Owl City approach and were recorded in the artist's bedroom (which, I'm going to guess, they probably were).

So of course, the end result is an intimate affair, with the DIY aesthetic that has become quite common in electronic indie pop music. It's not as dreamy, nor does it embrace the weird as some of its peers (see: Nightlands), but Youth Lagoon's music is still something fairly pleasant. It's airy, and at times feels quite sparse, but there's a lot going on, and much to appreciate with repeated listens. One of the best aspects of this genre is its tendency to layer quite a few different ingredients into one final product. A few listens later, you may still find something new to appreciate.

"Afternoon" is a strange tune in that it has a nostalgic feel to it, despite the reasons for this feeling not being too apparent. But the moment I first heard this song, I was immediately brought back to thoughts of youth, and of its simplicities.

There could be a number of reasons for this. It could be Powers' voice, which has a childlike timbre in its near-falsetto, a playfulness and immaturity that lends itself well to happier melodies. Or maybe it's the opening notes of the song, brought into being by what could either be bells or even a music box -- it's hard to tell, frankly. And what about the song's occasional whistling, reminiscent somehow of a child's cartoon from long ago.

Whatever the reason for its allure, the attraction of "Afternoon" pulls it above the rest of the songs on Youth Lagoon's debut album, establishing the band as an up-and-comer in its genre. They already have Pitchfork's stamp of approval, and say what you will about the publication, but they're usually right when it comes to pointing out good music. So take that as you will, and check out the rest of the record while you're at it.

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