For his third album, Savage Hills Ballroom, Boise, Idaho-based multi-instrumentalist Trevor Powers aka Youth Lagoon, has dropped the psych lo-fi quality of previous recordings to give more clarity and focus to this new batch of tracks. The emphasis seems to now be on the lyrics, presented more in a singer-songwriter approach with the vocal and synth parts being the main elements throughout all the songs. The stylish electric drum beats chosen for each one of the tracks also give the album a nice 1980’s production feeling. Melodically speaking, Savage Hills Ballroom has a peculiar affinity to the early work of Tori Amos and in particular, the vocal work. On a couple of the tracks, Trevor even channels Tori Amos’ singing style. There are also traces of the existential crooning of Thom Yorke all over the record. Eloquent step.
RIYL: Teen Daze, Perfume Genius, Tori Amos, Atlas Sound, and Radiohead’s Kid A.
1. (3:03) *Officer Telephone – Quiet intro, just piano and vocals. By minute 1:25, turns into a medium uptempo rocker piece with synths, distortion, and loud vocals.
2. (4:10) **Highway Patrol Stun Gun – Electro pop in a dream state. Upbeat and catchy.
3. (3:26) The Knower– Another slow piece of pop treated with sophistication. By minute 2:07 gets really upbeat.
4. (3:52) *No One Can Tell – Synth-driven medium uptempo tune with melancholic melody. Early 1990’s Tori Amos inspired.
5. (3:53) Doll's Estate – Soft and atmospheric synth-driven instrumental. Brian Eno was here – part 1.
6. (4:28) **Rotten Human – Quiet at first, then killer drumbeat kicks in making the song turn medium tempo with the intensity increasing as it advances. Great instrumentation.
7. (3:55) Kerry – Piano intro ballad mutating into a medium tempo beat tune with nostalgic tendencies. Sad pop.
8. (3:45) Again– Slow beat with carefully constructed melodic parts. Weird metallic beats and sounds wrap the song. Kate Bush would be proud.
9. (3:36) *Free Me– Another Tori Amos inspired track. It has an early 1990’s pre-Alternative vibe. Playful medium uptempo with captivating vocal moments and nice pop arraignments.
10. (2:45) *X-Ray – Another soft and atmospheric synth-driven instrumental. Brian Eno was here – part 2.