Powers’ compositions generally follow the same routine – songs usually start off from hushed beginnings before exhaling in stirring fashion. This quiet/not so quiet dynamic feels right for a couple of reasons. It not only allows Powers to show off his ability to create grand and enveloping conclusions to his tracks, but it also showcases his striking vocal style. At the quieter end of the spectrum he recalls Antlers’ vocalist Peter Silberman, and at times begins to sound like Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman – both styles shift to suit his arrangements brilliantly. Album highlight “17” is a perfect example of the balance that Powers has found – “Oh, when I was seventeen/my mother said to me/’Don’t stop imagining/the day that you do is the day that you die”, is an example of the kind of innocent nostalgia that runs through this album. It’s a touching sentiment when played over gentle synths at the tracks’ beginning, but by the end, Powers develops it into a full-on sing-along – the sort of uplifting moments that hark back to Arcade Fires’ full length debut.
And yet for all the examples of relative grandeur throughout The Year Of Hibernation, it’s the introspective moments that make it stand out. It really is an album for the winter time, for pulling up the covers when that snooze button is looking increasingly attractive. Even the song-titles betray an artist fixed on living in the moment; “Afternoon”, “July” and “17” – they all reference fleeting times and places, and the music is made to match with dreamy synths and lo-fi guitars.
Add to this the fact that the record is immensely listenable – several tracks almost seem to greet you like old friends of the past, such is their familiarity – and The Year In Hibernation is a brilliantly realized debut album. It’s a shame that Powers’ lyrics are distorted so heavily in order to lend to the albums’ blissed out feel – they are often indecipherable and thus there’s only so much we can relate to his experiences and confessions. But there’s no denying that Powers is one to watch, and if he continues to make music as catchy, cathartic and quietly charming as The Year In Hibernation, then he just might be the real deal.
8. The Hunt
9. Bobby (Bonus Track)
10. Ghost To Me (Bonus Track)