Youth Fountain – ‘Letters To Our Former Selves’

By Gem Rogers

When a label with a roster like Pure Noise Records – home to the likes of Boston Manor, Four Year Strong, and State Champs – add a new artist to their books, it’s hard to resist dipping in for a listen. In this case, it’s the turn of Canadian duo Youth Fountain, formed when guitarist and vocalist Tyler Zanon brought additional vocalist Cody Muraro on board in 2017 for early track ‘Grinding Teeth’ – which makes another appearance on this album. The pair from Vancouver released their self-titled EP in July last year, marking their first release under Pure Noise, and they’re now gearing up to make a bigger impact with debut full length ‘Letters To Our Former Selves’.

From the brief atmospheric opening of ‘Helpless’, the album moves smoothly into most recent single and title track ‘Letters to Our Former Selves’, and it’s like taking an instant step back in emo-pop punk time. With dual vocals from Muraro and Zanon, it’s pacy and heavily reminiscent of bands like Taking Back Sunday and Thursday circa 2003 – a theme that continues as the album progresses.

Angst is written all over this release from start to finish, from the song titles – ‘Moody’, ‘Worried’, and ‘Ache’ give a solid glimpse into the sentiments within – to the lyrics, given feeling by the plaintive, often partly screamed vocals. It’s the kind of record that almost certainly needs repeated listens, rather than being an instant love, though what stands out from the first playthrough is the well-crafted flow as each song blends easily into the next for a seamless listening experience. Standouts ‘Moody’, ‘Grinding Teeth’ and ‘Worried’ beg for movement, with the latter containing some of the strongest lyrics on the album – the words “Because every day is all so routine / I live with all the things I fucking hate about me” forming the start of an emotive middle eight section that will sadly resonate with too many people.

Unfortunately, particularly for older emo and pop punk fans, ‘Letters To Our Former Selves’ doesn’t really feel like anything that hasn’t already been done before – and done better. Tending to lack some of the personality and variety of the albums by those who came before, this record at times sounds a little too forced and in need of bigger hooks to keep hold of the listener’s attention for the full twelve tracks.

That said, there are enough glimmers of greatness in tracks like ‘Worried’ and ‘Letters To Our Former Selves’ to show that this is a band with scope to grow into something bigger. More importantly it has, of course, been a long time now since the era of ‘Tell All Your Friends’. There’s a whole generation looking for a new love to sing along to and help mend their pain – and with this album, Youth Fountain could well be the ones to fill the space in their hearts.

GEM ROGERS

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