A combination of screechy vocals, chilling lyrics and upbeat melodies. It shouldn’t work, but it somehow does. Savage Hills Ballroom is the third album to be released by Idaho based musician Trevor Powers, known as Youth lagoon, and it’s the shocking sound of this lone man and his piano that makes the album so beautifully intricate and exclusive.
Unlike The Year of Hibernation and Wondrous Bug composed with peaceful, tranquil melodies and Beach House vibes, Savage Hills Ballroom demonstrates a darker side to Powers’ mind. Through his bitter and piercing lyrics, along with light instruments consisting of synth pads and ominous cellos, this album appears as a symbol of the grief and pain that Powers has accumulated over his lifetime.
Beginning with ‘Officer Telephone’ the listener immediately gets a sense of Powers’ sheer vulnerability- light piano chords and shaky vocals, accompanied with sharp, menacing lyrics adding a sense of anger and desperation. This contrasts with the second track, ‘Highway Patrol Stun Gun’ which has more of a melancholy and sombre tone. The line ‘All I want is for you to come back home’ appears to be the backbone theme or the whole album- a sense of heartbreak and longing. In spite of the mournful lyrics, the upbeat sound of the acoustic drums and electric guitar juxtaposes the vocals, making it seem as though Powers feels almost a joyous sadness.
The tracks ‘Doll’s Estate’ and ‘X-ray’ are both quiet piano pieces that, although instrumentals, manage to denote a peaceful and hypnotic feel. The whole album appears to revolve around tragedy, each track demonstrating a new cause for pain. ‘Kerry’ eulogises his uncle’s trouble with drug addiction, with the fatalistic line “Kerry fell in love with Kim and pills at the same time” repeated throughout.
Powers’ personal heartbreak is allowed to resonate throughout the album, resulting in Savage Hills Ballroom’s dark, sinister, menacing, brilliance.