Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
One of the greatest aspects of young, or young-ish, love is that it has just as much of a chance to go horribly wrong as it does to go decently well. There's nothing about it that gives anyone any assurance that it will be worth any of the effort being made toward seeing it through. The other day, sitting near my coffeehouse table was a group of college-aged kids, a gang of long-time buddies, it seemed, who frequently gather together there while they're doing their homework. While it seems that none of them are dating one another, here's betting that it will happen before too long. It's the way they behave toward one another, the too-sweet looks that they give each other. Of course, I don't know anything about them, other than their asides and the hard to not overhear conversations when they're flirting/not-flirting. They were sitting around, during the standard happy hours two days ago and one of the girls in the group - a pretty one, behind a computer, wearing a light sundress - mentioned that she'd met a boy the day before and they'd briefly bandied about the idea of having a coffee that afternoon. The boy didn't show up and the gang wanted blood. It was hard to tell if the anger came from the friend actually being stood up, the disappointment that they didn't get to meet this attractive farmer kid (as he was described) or that it had anything to do with a possible, future love connection. The thing about this is - what the hell does it matter? The boy wasn't interested enough to make the effort. Who cares. The girl's cute. There are other boys. Her friends seem cool. They're also mostly cute so it's only going to help attract different boys. This one fellow doesn't matter in the least, but for close to two hours, he seemed fantastically important and inconsiderate and pretty much par for the course as well.
It's the way it goes. Love hardly ever shows up. It's the greatest crapshoot there is and it's where we meet up with thoughts about Youth Lagoon, the musical project of Trevor Powers who, from Boise, Idaho, has created a debut album that describes all too well what it's like to be waiting on love to appear. Powers likes to liken it - or the circumstances surrounding the stakeout - to monsters and ghosts, always lurking, close enough to brush against the sides of your legs at any time, but never actually doing it. They're there, mind you, for there's no mistaking the feeling of some invisible burden. He sings, "The monsters in the room were all dancing to the music all around us," and we're sure that the monsters are here for one reason, and that's to ruin something. They're just pretending to like the music.
Powers writes touching and expressive lines about what seem to be very personal episodes. He follows most of his feelings through and they come out as sparklingly melancholy ballads with real personality, not just a desire to convey sadness and a disheartened young man. They are songs about a young man who is hurting ("I had flurries in my blood/Pumping through my body's veins.), but who is trying hard to find a way to just go with the hurt. At some point, out there beyond the horizon, out where those monsters and ghosts live, there's a greater spirit, one that's going to greet him smiling. It's out there amongst the wreckage and where the accidents and mistakes congregate, where the dumb-luck and the love quitters squat. He sings on "Afternoon," "I've watched all afternoon/Without watching at all/I'm thinking of you dear/Every moment I'm awake/I've tied my hands with rope/Now I want to escape/And make a mistake." It's the mistakes that he needs most of all.
Youth Lagoon Official Site
Fat Possum Records