Trevor Powers, FKA Youth Lagoon, dismantles everything on his new debut solo album Mulberry Violence. The gentle and wiry voice that winded its way through insecure and reminiscent songs in Youth Lagoon is hardly recognizable here – undoubtedly a new beginning for Powers. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having thoroughly enjoyed Youth Lagoon’s debut The Year of Hibernation and not really following up afterwards I was genuinely curious to see what had become of one of my high school favorites.
From the first moments, a dark glitch-pop atmosphere enters and remains constant throughout the entire album. Instead of muffled lo-fi drums you have electronic, almost trap beats. And reverb-drenched guitars are replaced by staggering samples and sawtooth synth bursts. The one constant from YL to Mulberry I found is the expansive piano environments that Powers masterfully creates. Only this time they mostly usher in a grim energy in place of nostalgia. It becomes quite certain that Youth Lagoon is a thing of the past, and it really seems like that’s what Powers wants us to understand here.
The album walks a fine line, dipping back and forth between intimate, delicate moments and some real aching intensity – or ‘violence.’ “Film It All” stood out to me. It’s the most pop-oriented song on the album in my opinion next to “Clad In Skin,” I’ve said glitchy already but that’s the vibe (synonyms for glitch – error, bug, mishap – but those words don’t work). “Common Hoax’s” orchestral arrangement and emotional performance concludes the record with a revealing line, “I refuse to forget.” A resonating relief and brief window to his past as closure for a tense album.