Multiple full-length albums and globe-trotting adventures into a critically acclaimed music career, Trevor Powers — aka Youth Lagoon — has matured into a seasoned pro at 26.
Not that life always feels that way to Powers, whose fragile, childlike vocals belie introverted imagery and creative, synth-driven sonic collages.
“There’s always so many things where you feel like you have certain things figured out,” he says, “and then you realize that you have no idea what you’re doing still — which I think is exciting!”
Powers punctuates this admission with an amiable laugh, which enlivens all of his conversations. It’s clear that Youth Lagoon is having fun being Youth Lagoon. “I never get content when I make an album or play a show,” he continues. “It’s like, ‘Well, that could have been better.’ I’m never at this stage where I feel like I have anything figured out. It’s nice. It makes me push myself.”
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Boise’s not-naive-at-all indie star first started saturating music websites four years ago. Nowadays, NPR and Pitchfork are championing the Sept. 25 release of his third full-length album, “Savage Hills Ballroom” (Fat Possum Records). Boiseans will hear some of the new music at a hometown Youth Lagoon concert Sept. 12 at the iconic Egyptian Theatre ($20, TicketWeb).
“Savage Hills” should widen the Youth Lagoon fan base. It’s more immediately infectious than his shimmering debut album, “The Year of Hibernation” — sometimes lazily dubbed as “bedroom indie” — and more direct than his 2013 psychedelic-pop excursion, “Wondrous Bughouse.”
Powers’ delicate, butterfly-winged voice now peers outward rather than just inward. There’s a vulnerable human element permeating the polished production, even during electronic, industrial-tinged moments. It’s not mainstream, but it’s more mainstream.
“On this album, things just started falling into place in a little more intentional way,” says Powers, who approaches songwriting from a subconscious vantage point. “I see music as this never-ending experimental journey. I’m as weird as it gets when it comes to trying to make sounds that have never been heard before. This record just came out a little bit differently. It’s interesting to show that different side of myself.”
A newly released song, “Highway Patrol Stun Gun,” even contains symbolism inspired by police brutality in the news. But Powers cautions that his words probably shouldn’t be overly dissected. Once the lyrics are penned, it’s impossible to control what they’ll mean to fans — many who approach him to confess how his music affects them.
“The next thing you know, it’s not even your idea anymore,” Powers says. “People just take it and make it whatever it’s going to be.
“It can be hard,” he admits. “I think that’s one thing that I’ve learned over time. You can’t be possessive over things you write as far as intended meanings or anything, because after it’s done being written, that no longer exists.”
Spoken like a seasoned pro.
After gigging in Boise, Powers and his hired-gun backing trio will do a run of warm-up dates in the United States before a two-week trip overseas to tour. Then it’s back to the U.S. for additional gigs, then festivals in 2016. “Staying busy for all of next year,” he says.
He’s excited to perform in new places such as Prague and Italy, he admits. But the Egyptian in Boise will be a first, too.
“I’ve been to one show there, and it was Spiritualized,” Powers says, mentioning the British psych-rock band’s name with well-deserved reverence.
Talk about a tough act to follow. Yet somehow, it’s easy to imagine that Youth Lagoon will be just fine. Experience matters.
“Let’s hope for the best!” Powers teases. He lets out another carefree laugh and quips: “That’ll be the last quote of the article.”
• Attendance numbers for Western Idaho Fair concerts: Jerrod Niemann (2,900), Theory of a Deadman (4,200), Gary Allan (8,900) and Queensryche (4,500). Queensryche’s attendance was probably half of what rocker Pat Benatar would have done — had she not canceled the week before.
• Notable Sept. 12 benefit concerts: TheMcCall Jazz Festival
, headlined by Boise’s own Curtis Stigers and world-class guitarist Bill Frisell; and theBenefit Concert for Children of Vinh Son Orphanage
headlined by Kevin Kirk and Onomatopoeia at the Sapphire Room.
Michael Deeds’ entertainment column runs Fridays in Scene. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.