The Year of Hibernation

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The Year of Hibernation
The Year of Hibernation.jpg
Studio album by Youth Lagoon
Released September 27, 2011 (2011-09-27)
Recorded Late 2010 - early 2011
Studio Kung Pow! Studio, Boise, Idaho
Length 42:20
Label Fat Possum
Producer Trevor Powers, Jeremy Park
Youth Lagoon chronology
The Year of Hibernation
Wondrous Bughouse
(2013)Wondrous Bughouse2013
Singles from The Year of Hibernation
  1. "July"
    Released: May 2011
  2. "Cannons"
    Released: May 2011

The Year of Hibernation is the debut album of American indie rock artist Youth Lagoon, the stage name of musician Trevor Powers. The album was released on September 27, 2011 on the independent record label Fat Possum Records. It peaked at No. 41 on the Independent Albums and No. 8 on the Top Heatseekers charts of Billboard. While no official singles were released, two of the songs were made available on Bandcamp prior to the album's release and two videos were made in support of the album.


The album was written and recorded during a difficult period in the life of Powers, who was receiving counseling for anxiety which was causing him to develop panic attacks and a debilitating fear of death. This anxiety is referenced throughout the album and is a major theme along with fear, interpersonal conflicts, tension and heartache.[1]

To enable him to save up enough money to record the album with local engineer and friend Jeremy Park, he busked with his keyboard late at night in downtown Boise. He also ceased his counseling sessions, which had a negative effect on his relationship with his girlfriend.[2]

The album was recorded at Park's Kung Pow! home studio in Boise during Powers' Christmas break from Boise State University.[3] In an effort to capture a "band" feel, the initial recording sessions were made using Pro Tools, with Powers playing keyboards (including a Yamaha full-size electric piano), operating an Alesis SR16 drum machine and singing, while accompanied by Erik Eastman on a Gibson SG guitar.[4] As the album was recorded in a home studio, various rooms were used to enable certain sounds to be generated. Park's in-laws' large garage and shower room were used as reverb chambers, a bass amp was recorded in a master bedroom closet and the main vocals were recorded in Park's living room to enable different mic distances to be used.[5] The organ sounds in "July" were generated by recording Powers playing from both the kitchen and the living room, which generated a "spacious and ambient sound".[6]

Once the album was complete, Powers planned to release it online to garner interest, with the intention of distributing the full album for free online.[3] Powers issued two initial tracks, "Cannon" and "July", on Bandcamp in May 2011,[7] gaining interest from a series of music blogs, including a "Best New Tracks" designation from Pitchfork.[8] This resulted in Powers being picked up by record label Fat Possum for a two-album deal.[1]

Album artwork and title[edit]

The name of the album is a reference to Powers' feelings of hibernation through the process of writing the album.[9] While writing the album, Powers' anxiety increased, causing him to retreat to his bedroom to compose in an effort to deal with events in his past. When the album was finished, and his mental state had changed, he felt that his "year of hibernation" was complete.[3]

The album artwork was originally going to feature a picture of Powers as a child, but this changed following a family vacation with his parents and brothers.[3] The artwork for the album consists of an unedited photo taken by Powers on the Hawaiian island of Kauai during the trip. The holiday was significant to Powers as “everyone was growing up and moving out, and it was the last family vacation". The Seattle Times described the picture as "a glowing scene captured by a suburban, middle-class kid in love with the moment, wanting to hold it forever".[10]

Promotion and tour[edit]

Two music videos were released in support of the album, for tracks "July" and "Montana". Both videos were directed by Tyler T. Williams, a friend of Powers. The video for "Montana" follows "a man dealing with the death of his father who passed away in war when he was a kid",[11] with Bryan Parker from Pop Press International describing it as: "one of the most strikingly cinematic and beautiful videos we’ve seen in recent memory".[12] The video for July was described as "eerily sad" and "A bloody-nosed, apocalyptic affair" and drew comparisons to Lars Von Trier's Melancholia.[13]

To promote the album, Youth Lagoon embarked on a 19-date American tour in November 2011, supported by Young Magic.[14] This tour was followed by a 34-date worldwide tour in early 2012 including performances in Japan and Europe as well as North America.[15] Youth Lagoon were supported on seven dates by Porcelain Raft.[16] In May 2012, Youth Lagoon supported Death Cab for Cutie on the US leg of that band's world tour. Touring restarted in July, with support from Father John Misty, including dates at the Ottawa Bluesfest, Pitchfork Music Festival, Capitol Hill Block Party and Splendour in the Grass festivals.[17][18] On tour, Powers played keyboards, and was joined on stage by friend Logan Hyde on guitars.[2]

After a March 2012 performance at the SXSW festival, Bryan Parker from Pop Press International said of the live show: "When Youth Lagoon began, the crowd was engrossed from the first note. Though not as physically mobile on stage as SXSW headliners often are, Powers’ blatantly emotive delivery of his poetic lyrics captivated us with its rarity".[19] In his review for Timeout Chicago, Dave Satterwhite was less complimentary, saying that the music was "somewhat dancey, somewhat psychedelic, but not quite anything when the set was over" and that the crowd were "asleep on their feet, waiting for that moment of finality, of happy abandon".[20] Drew Litowitz of Consequence of Sound was much more positive in his review of Youth Lagoon's performance at the Rock and Roll Hotel, a Washington D.C. venue, describing Powers' voice as "exceptional" and the performance as "loud and penetrating, albeit minimal".[21]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 77/100 [22]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [23]
Pitchfork (8.4/10) [24]
AbsolutePunk (88%)[25]
The A.V. Club (B+) [26]
BBC Music (favorable)[27]
Consequence of Sound 3.5/5 stars [28]
Under the Radar 8/10 stars [29]

The album has received mostly positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator Metacritic, a website which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 from reviews by mainstream critics, it currently holds a rating of 77 out of 100, signifying "generally favorable" reviews.

In his Pitchfork review, Mark Richardson said, "The record mixes feelings of protection and safety with the tug of adventure and wraps it in compulsively listenable music that explodes at just the right moments," while Consequence of Sound called the album "charming", saying that it "serves as a whimsical introduction to the magic of Youth Lagoon". Under the Radar rated the album 8 out of 10, and summed it up by saying, "The Year of Hibernation occupies many spaces at once, a seeming contradiction that makes better use of its incongruous pieces than most records do of its complimentary pieces. The result is both mournful and joyful, but totally enjoyable". In her review for Allmusic, Heather Phares described the single "Cannons" as "lovely" and said the album was made special by the "vulnerability and empathy that radiate from every song".

It was voted the 50th best album of 2011 by Pitchfork[30] and 18th best album of 2011 by music blog Pretty Much Amazing,[31] with Ian Cohen of Pitchfork saying, "Powers' debut LP made a real and lasting connection like few other records in the past 12 months". It was also given an honorable mention among 2011 albums by Relevant magazine[32] and by music website Beats per Minute[33]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Trevor Powers.

No. Title Length
1. "Posters" 3:51
2. "Cannons" 3:44
3. "Afternoon" 4:10
4. "17" 3:56
5. "July" 4:46
6. "Daydream" 5:19
7. "Montana" 4:35
8. "The Hunt" 4:26
Total length: 42:20


Chart (2011) Peak
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[34] 8
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[35] 41



  1. ^ a b Goodman, William. "ALBUM PREMIERE: Youth Lagoon's Breakout Pop". Spin. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Matt, Frank. "Interview: Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "THE BOY FROM BOISE: YOUTH LAGOON COMES OUT OF HIBERNATION". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Park, Jeremy. "RECORDING A LO-FI RECORD - PART 1". Park Audio. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Park, Jeremy. "RECORDING A LO-FI RECORD - PART 4 (END SUMMARY)". Park Audio. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "RECORDING A LO-FI RECORD - PART 3". Park Audio. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Beck, Lauren. "The Awakening of Youth Lagoon". The L Magazine. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Bevan, David. "Youth Lagoon "July"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "THE CLASS OF 2011: AN INTERVIEW WITH YOUTH LAGOON". Frontier Psychiatrist. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Matson, Andrew. "Youth Lagoon holds on to the moment". Seattle Times. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "Montanz // Youth Lagoon". Arcade44. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Video: Youth Lagoon – "Montana"". Pop Press International. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Video: Youth Lagoon: "July"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  14. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Youth Lagoon Announces Tour". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  15. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Youth Lagoon Announces Tour". Pitchform Media. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  16. ^ Young, Alex. "Porcelain Raft teams up with Youth Lagoon for 2012 tour dates". Consequence Of Sound. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Coplanon, Chris. "Youth Lagoon adds summer tour dates". Consequence Of Sound. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  18. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Death Cab for Cutie Announce Orchestral Tour, Youth Lagoon to Open". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Parker, Bryan. "SXSW 2012 Highlights Day 3". Pop Press International. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  20. ^ Satterwhite, Dave. "Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review - Youth Lagoon". Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  21. ^ Litowitz, Drew. "Live Review: Youth Lagoon at D.C.'s Rock and Roll Hotel (3/24)". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  22. ^ "Youth Lagoon - The Year Of Hibernation". Metacritic. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  23. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Year Of Hibernation - Youth Lagoon". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  24. ^ Richardson, Mark. "Youth Lagoon: The Year Of Hibernation". Pitchfork. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "The Year Of Hibernation - Youth Lagoon". Absolute Punk. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  26. ^ "The Year Of Hibernation - Youth Lagoon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  27. ^ Diver, Mike. "BBC - Music - Review of Youth Lagoon The Year Of Hibernation". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  28. ^ "Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  29. ^ "Youth Lagoon: The Year of Hibernation". Under The Radar. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  30. ^ "STAFF LISTS The Top 50 Albums of 2011". Pitchrok Media. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  31. ^ "PMA's 40 Best Albums of 2011". PrettyMuchAmazing. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  32. ^ "Our top 10 Albums of 2011". Relevant Magazine. Relevant Media. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  33. ^ "The Top Albums of 2011: Honorable Mentions". Beats per Minute. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  34. ^ "Youth Lagoon Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  35. ^ "Youth Lagoon Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 17, 2015.