The first thing I thought to myself while listening to the self-titled album The Written Years by The Written Years was how big of a sound they had. What impressed me even more was that the band is a three-piece. The core band consists of Wade Ouellet (words, vocals, guitar and keyboards), Kodie Krogh (guitar, vocals) and Kane Enders (drums). Throughout the entirety of this record you relish the songs in a number of ways. First off, the engineering and production is stellar. It sounds like a professional release and is no surprise since the album was produced, engineered and mixed by Ryan Worsely (Dear Rouge, Tough Lovers) and was mastered by Ryan Moorey (Arcade Fire, Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans). It also one of those albums that bursts with enough emotion that it can barely be contained by the speakers. They have an uplifting energy not unlike Arcade Fire and even bands like Beach House. I was thinking to myself while listening to this album that their live act is probably incredible.
The band starts off really strong with a powerful, visceral song called “It’s Not Your Fault.” There is a short fog of ambience before the band bursts with almost no warning. The drummer’s creativity is apparent as early as the verse as a sustained synth reverberates and the guitars are strummed at the beginning of each measure. The vocals are warm, attractive and sung with conviction. As the song progresses it has a cathartic quality that is hard to ignore.
The band doesn't disappoint with their second track “I Would Miss My Home If I Knew Where It Was.” The beginning drumbeat is on point especially when it’s combined with the ethereal guitars. The vocal melody is catchy and had me humming the melody hours later in the shower. I also really enjoyed the vocal harmonies by Julia Huggins. By the end of the song the band is purging their kinetic energy in an almost overwhelming wave of sound.
The band wisely scales back the energy a bit on “Homesick Dirge.” This creates an almost Wilco-type air while Ouellet delivers one of his best performances. He sings, “It’s cold in this house with the snow piled to the roof. We’ve been frozen inside for years, we still sleep in our separate rooms. I hope your bed stays full with the indent that I left way back when I stopped giving everything I had just to keeping you in the past.” “Hospital Rooms” has an anthemic quality while “Are You Okay?” explores the complexity and transitory nature of relationships. The album closes with “The Station,” which is the least rocking song on the album but arguable the most emotionally resonant.
In an alternate universe The Written Years would be selling out arenas and not Arcade Fire. What you’ve got here is an excellent album that demands to be heard. So don’t only listen to it but spread the album so more people can experience it.
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