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The Old Outweighs the New in Youth Fountain's Freshman Release

03-31-2019 | By Peter R. Clark | Issue 102


Youth Fountain (formerly Bedroom Talk) is a 2-piece emotional pop-punk outfit from Vancouver. After a long time, the band has finally released their first full-length. And I'll be the first to say, it may have not been worth the wait.

Letters to Our Former Selves is a collection of 12 songs, comprised of five new songs and seven songs that had been released before the album's release. With the initial release of Grinding Teeth (later re-released when they changed their name from Bedroom Talk to Youth Fountain, as a self-titled EP), a short EP, in 2017, I've been aching for a full-release from the group.

It is slightly disappointing that the album has few new songs, with the majority being made up of songs previously released, however I am happy nonetheless that the band has finally released something. The new songs, however, are not quite as good as their previously released songs. Of the new songs on this album, "Moody" might actually be the only one worth talking about. And I begin to wonder if it would have been better to just release another EP with the new songs.

The majority of the new songs on this album clock in well under two minutes, with the exception of "Moody" that is around the length of the older songs at three minutes. It feels like a letdown that the newer songs are short, and overall, not worth mentioning. The older songs were such great releases that they really carry this album, even if the majority of fans have already heard these songs before.

At the core of Youth Fountain is the aggressive pop-punk sound that is teetering on the edge of melodic hardcore, but a distinct sound present in all their songs adamantly refuses the music to be pigeonholed into that genre. There is a sense of movement in all the songs that doesn't lend itself to that of melodic hardcore, and it really makes this group unique. In addition, the group only have two members, which really goes to show that less is more.

Lyrically, it would not be shameful to call this band an emotional group, with lyrics similar to most melodic hardcore bands. It honestly reminds me of Daggermouth. While the song's names aren't stupid, like Daggermouth, the lyric nature of both bands are extremely serious. With them both being pop-punk bands (from Canada no less), a genre usually saturated with happy lyrics, it casts them both as unique approaches to the genre, with Youth Fountain arguably being a unique standout of the pop-punk genre.

The album begins with a short introduction track that bleeds right into "Letters to Our Former Selves," the title track. A powerful, yet calming track that does more of an introduction to the album than the first track, "Helpless," can ever dream of doing. In fact, the two tracks almost feel like one. Following that, is "Rose Coloured Glasses," which I have always felt to be a weak song compared to their other releases. And stacked against the new songs, it is fighting for that title. While still not a great song overall, it isn't necessarily the worst song the album.

The aforementioned "Moody" is up next. The new song is a great mixture of old and new, and is worthy of being on the album. Like other songs, the interplay between the two members of the band is a standout. Each member has a unique voice as they word their respective lyrics. And this song showcases that aspect of the group quite well.

The next two songs, "Worried" and "Complacent," are old bastions of the group. Both are just excellent, and I cannot express in words how good these songs are. "Worried" is a full force assault of depression and how life isn't worth living, and being worried about everything that comes with that thought. "Complacent" is another great track with depressive lyrics. Putting these two songs next to each other on the album was a great thought, as they are quite similar.

The next four songs are comprised of three new songs, and one old-ish one. The three new ones, "Ache," "Furlough," and "Lucid" are nothing really worth mentioning. "Ache" is a short acoustic track, that does nothing for me. If you could have a song that you skipped on an album, it would be this one. It's just nothing special and boring. "Furlough" and "Lucid" are tracks that are basically one track. With the former being a short acoustic introduction to the latter. Again, another two tracks that don't really do anything for me. They lack the intensity and clever lyric writing that other songs have. They feel like filler, which is honestly what drags this album down. The new songs don't seem to have a place on the album, and overall just don't really have a place here stacked up against the old guard.

The old-ish song, "Deadlocked" is only old-ish because it was released a couple of months before this album's release. It's a great track that really shows promise. If, like me, you listened to this song shortly before the album's release, you may have been stoked for the new songs on the album. If they were anything like "Deadlocked" it was set be a fantastic album. But sadly, we were presented with reused songs and new songs that don't really meet the greatness of the older songs.

To round out the album, two old songs, probably two of the absolute best, "Grinding Teeth," and "Blooms." Both of these tracks are just excellent. But we, as fans, already knew that. Being two of the first songs they ever released, fans of Youth Fountain have been playing these songs to death. While great, it's essentially yesterday's pizza. Good, but cold and already enjoyed.

Am I disappointed with Letters to Our Former Selves? Well it's complicated. On the one hand, I'm happy that after numerous delays the two guys from Vancouver finally released their album, which is nothing to put them down for. But on the other hand, it's a mess of recycled songs and new ones that can't carry themselves as well as the older ones. It's a strange dichotomy of an album. I really want to like it, but at the end of the day I like the songs I already like. So as an album, it falls short. Which is a complete shame.

Youth Fountain didn't quite hit the mark here. And I don't know who to blame. They signed with a label and they promised an album shortly after. But then the album didn't come and they apologized to their fans. Months later it was finally released. Was this a product of "we made a promise, so we have to release something," or was this album they wanted to release all along? Is this the fault of the band, or the fault of the label they signed to? I wish I had these answers. I wish Letters to Our Former Selves was a better album, but sadly, it isn't.

You find out more about Youth Fountain on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/youthfountainmusic/ or on their website: http://youthfountainmusic.com/