Man, it’s been a long winter.

Not just because it’s been snowing for six months and because January felt ten weeks long, but the season itself can just take a lot out of you sometimes. The nights are longer, the days are gray; it’s a desaturated season. And sometimes it can take some extra effort. 

It can help to not focus on it. Other times, it helps to think about, talk about it, address it – steer into the skid. If someone else is going through what you’re going through, it can be beneficial to both. Letters to our Former Selves, the debut full-length from Vancouver two-piece Youth Fountain, comprised of Cody Muraro and Tyler Zanon, is the latter. An album that “holds the pieces of the person I’ve been over the last decade,” as guitarist/vocalist Zanon explains, there are gorgeous, glaring emotional moments throughout this record. 

Zanon continues, saying the album is one about self-identity issues, isolation, relationships & mental health problems. The saying is you can’t judge a book by its cover, but before even pressing play, the tracklist itself is a good indicator of these themes and what’s to come – “Helpless,” “Moody,” “Worried,” “Ache.” The first is a short introduction that drops directly into the album’s title track, a pop-punk sprint screaming “Where the fuck did you go the day you left me for dead again / But did you ever think that I could be different / you never gave me the chance.”

Both “Rose Coloured Glass” and “Moody” are solid, catchy songs from Youth Fountain, but Letters’ first standout comes with “Worried,” a brutal, honest swirl of dual vocals and racing guitar that hits you right on the chin. Each line reveals more than the one before it and there’s at least one in there that, unfortunately, we can all relate to. The final bridge closes out the song with a minute-long declaration that bares it all: “Every day / it’s all so routine / I live with all the things I fucking hate about me / I’ve been numb for so long / I’d be better off gone / So scared to die but that’s all I really want / Until you feel the shame in the words that ring true / You never did all the things you really wanted to do / Regret ever choice I’ve made up to this point  … I just wish I had something to live for / I just wish I had something to live.” 

The pairing of “Furlough” and “Lucid” works well, but feels repetitive when set next to the opening combination of “Helpless” and “Letters to Our Former Selves” – a brief, mostly-instrumental lead-in followed by a fast, short counterpart. I mentioned before that it works well to start the album off, but the second time around doesn’t carry the same impact and doesn’t do any favors. 

On a first listen, Letters certainly packs a punch. There is plenty of heart put into the record, but as a whole, it is deceptively short, with a total running time just barely beyond 30:00 and with five of twelve songs not cracking the two-minute mark. That said, none of that is really a negative, and the brevity works in the album’s favor with so much packed in to such a short span. With Letters to Our Former Selves, Youth Fountain have written more than just a message to who we used to be, but a reminder to pay attention to who we are now and a note that we can continue to grow into someone else. 

Here’s to what comes next; let’s make it through the winter.

  1. “Helpless”
  2. “Letters to our Former Selves”
  3. “Rose Coloured Glass”
  4. “Moody”
  5. “Worried”
  6. “Complacent”
  7. “Ache”
  8. “Deadlocked”
  9. “Furlough”
  10. “Lucid”
  11. “Grinding Teeth”
  12. “Blooms”