In 2016 Trevor Powers wrote an open letter to fans explaining that he "ended Youth Lagoon because it became a mental dungeon, and I was its captive. My intention was never to keep it going -- only to serve as a nod to the blooming years." Two years later, after releasing three albums of skewed, but grandiose and intimate, lo-fi indie psych-pop under the moniker, he returned with the course-corrective Mulberry Violence. Released under his own name, the ten-track set evokes its unsettling title, pairing sugary melodies with fractured breakbeats and intermittent bursts of electronic discord. Jettisoning the pop architecture of his Youth Lagoon days, Powers has distilled his angst into a highly concentrated sonic tonic that both delights and disturbs. Less steeped in the sweet pain of nostalgia, Mulberry Violence feels alarmingly present. Cognitive dissonance, especially as it applies to being a functioning human being in an age where technology requires the attending to of multiple personas, is always at the forefront. The rawness of simply being alive is what propels fervid and fragmented standouts like "Playwright" and "Dicegame," the latter of which uses what sounds like a sampled hawk screech as its sole percussive element, and decrees "Finally I accept myself/flawed with nothing to figure out." His voice shrouded in distortion, sometimes to the song's detriment, Powers' ability to go from vulnerable to feral in the blink of an eye keeps the listener on the edge of their seat, as does the occasional jarring shift from ambient vista to chemical grade electro-mayhem. Mulberry Violence is not without beauty, as Powers' distinctive falsetto and keen ear for melody remain front and center, especially on the slow-burn closer "Common Hoax," but now older and wiser, he knows to surround all of that beauty with the constant threat of inclement weather.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger