Trevor Powers’ enthusiasm is palpable when describing the outdoor soccer games and frequent Basque parades of his hometown Boise, Idaho. Judging by that local pride, you might guess the sun-glazed mountains on his album cover were the Rockies. But no, says the 22-year-old musician/producer known as Youth Lagoon, on the phone, driving through Boise. The mountains and rainbow on “The Year of Hibernation” are from a photo he took with his parents and brothers off the coast of Kauai.
“Everyone was growing up and moving out, and it was the last family vacation, as far as the immediate family getting together,” he says. “It was the most beautiful spectacle. That rainbow — people have asked me if I edited it in, and I’m like, ‘Hell no!'”
It’s a glowing scene captured by a suburban, middle-class kid in love with the moment, wanting to hold it forever.
Powers nails that sweet longing over and over on his debut album “The Year of Hibernation,” which he’ll perform songs from Thursday at Neumos.
“Contrary to popular opinion, I did not record it myself,” he says. “The album was recorded at my friend’s house — he’s a recording engineer — over my Christmas break at Boise State [University]. I told him my vision, and he helped me execute it.”
Each track on “Hibernation” is singer-songwriter fare with a story you can’t quite discern through Powers’ reverb-soaked vocals, and sweeping arrangements that weave his voice through synthesizers, electric guitars and digital drums. The unique electro-acoustic vibe of it comes from Powers and engineer Jeremy Park coupling synthetic sounds and organic ones, from an Alesis SR-18 drum machine and regular rock instruments. They created depth and texture by placing speakers in Parks’ kitchen and living room, and adjusting tonalities of individual tracks after the recording was done. Songs like the slow-building “Montana” pair robotic and human handclaps, unfolding from spare to epic. Beat-heavy songs “Day Dream,” “The Hunt” and “Bobby” incorporate the floaty atmosphere of popular Canadian R&B singers The Weeknd and Drake, whose recent album Powers calls “truly great.”
Sometimes he sings cleanly, with no effects layered on his voice, as on his cover of John Denver’s “Goodbye Again” — which isn’t on his album, but you can find on blogs. But mostly it’s all about the swirl.
“To me the most important part of a song isn’t any of those aspects,” he says. “I’m trying to look at the overall picture, the overall aesthetics. The feeling the song is giving off. I’m trying to do this, plus this, plus this equals this emotion.”