Album Review // Youth Lagoon // Heaven is a Junkyard
If you're like me, you may not have known about Youth Lagoon before now. This may be because musician Trevor Powers retired the name in 2016, opting to move forward using his own. If you're like me, you may also be unsure about Powers' vocals upon hearing "Rabbit," the first song on his new album; and if you are like me, you'll be completely sold by the end of the track., gripping in both its vivid lyrical imagery and warm, piano-forward instrumentation.
Heaven is a Junkyard is a story record, the kind with a background that informs its songs rather than distracts from them. After a severe over-the-counter drug reaction, Powers was left essentially mute for the better half of a year, unsure of whether he could ever sing again. Because of this, Junkyard is filled with trauma ("Idaho Alien"), but it also highlights a genuine, irony-free hopefulness that seems to be missing from indie rock these days (just try getting the carefree chorus of "Prizefighter" out of your head). Powers evokes a lot of artists with his return to the Youth Lagoon moniker — his vocals are reminiscent of Big Thief, his piano front and center as Bon Iver-esque samples add texture to the stories he sings — but most importantly, he sounds more like himself than he has in nearly 10 years.