Not your Grandma’s Youth Lagoon: Trevor Powers returns from seven-year hiatus, teases upcoming album

In 2016, Trevor Powers announced the end of his solo career as Youth Lagoon. Though only spanning five years, the Boise native acquired a distinct kind of fame with his feeble voice and refreshing sound. However, the project soon became creatively suffocating, causing Powers to call it quits.

Seven years later, Powers returns to the spotlight, with his stage name in tow, releasing his latest single, “Idaho Alien,” and announcing his fourth album, “Heaven is a Junkyard,” scheduled to release June 9. 

A portrait of recovery, growth and the perpetual decay of a small town oozing with drugs and unhappiness, “Idaho Alien” feels like a confessional turned lullaby. Still rich with the 34-year-old distinguished images of blood pooling in clawfoot bathtubs and absent fathers, Power’s dulcet vocals instill an impression of Idaho unseen in his previous releases. Though still a “frontier” waiting to be explored, Powers does not shy from his complex relationship with his home state. From self-harm to a community fractured by drug use and a God who refuses to show, “Idaho Alien” challenges the standard lament of a broken childhood by layering the complex hopes, dreams and fears that coincide with the narrator’s tattered youth throughout the three-minute track.

However, “Idaho Alien” illustrates more than a narrator reflecting on their unsettling yet familiar surroundings, but on Powers’ journey of finding his sound. Still containing his trusty piano, Powers’ latest single seals his transition from grainy bedroom lo-fi hits to avant-pop, a genre that breaks traditional music boundaries through vocals, textures and rhythm.

Still, Powers’ sound remains unique and, more importantly, his own. “Idaho Alien” does not cater to capitalistic standards of mass production or seek popularity through gimmicky social media promotions. Instead, the messy humanness of Powers’ narrative bolsters his single, creating something so tangible it leaves your chest aching.

Perhaps I’m biased, as I, too, come from a small town where used needles littered playgrounds and domestic disputes echoed through the rural countryside like gunshots, but Powers perfectly encapsulates how a home can comfort yet haunt us. “Daddy come home / Daddy’s on junk,” Powers sings, portraying the stark contrast of yearning for home while simultaneously wanting never to return.

Though bleak and at times feeling like the prelude to a hard-boiled crime novel, “Idaho Alien” maintains a sense of childish wonder. The titular term casts a rose-colored shadow over Powers, Idaho. Yes, drugs have fractured his home, and maybe it is not on God’s radar, but the narrator still holds out hope for something better to arrive. While we, as listeners, may not be privy to Powers’ light at the end of the tunnel, it is clear that he will confront it without fear or regret. 

While Powers may not remember how it happened, Youth Lagoon is back. Though no longer a 22-year-old singing about childhood nostalgia and campgrounds, “Idaho Alien” reflects a new era of Powers’ career characterized by maturity, loss of innocence and resilience.