The Written Years - The Written Years (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Written Years

The Written Years (2014)


The Written Years are a young trio based out of Vancouver, BC, with a surprisingly well-crafted, pristinely recorded and enjoyable debut given their currently formative beginnings and apparent lack of hype or awareness from most any publication prone to covering the style they play. Their self-titled debut boasts only eight tracks, but they span 37 minutes. Any longer and the album would be likely to drag, but the band speckle their melodic, folk-tinged indie/alt-rock with enough comfortable shuffles and inviting refrains that its length feels cozy and appropriate.

Listeners receive instant momentum on The Written Years from an opening salvo that kicks off with rollicking opener "It's Not Your Fault", the Morrissey-like-titled "I Would Miss My Home If I Knew Where It Was" and its tasteful female vocal guest appearance, and the darker "Homesick Dirge", the last of which feels almost sultry in a City and Colour sense. Speaking of which, sure, frontman Wade Ouellet certainly sounds contemporary, but probably only accidentally, bearing resemblance to Fences' Christopher Mansfield and the Republic of Wolves' Gregg Andrew Dellarocca, securing himself a charm unique to most and strangely familiar to others. In any event, the halftime acoustic ballad "The Phone Is Ringing" is far more Red House Painters, anyhow.

The band's bio speaks to four main themes covered on the record: "affection, belonging, loss and nostalgia." These most definitely ring true, but Ouellet has a way of not making these subjects feel too obvious, even if he tends to stick by tried-and-true standbys with references to weather, the changing of seasons, distance both emotional and physical, and more general, conclusive observations that seem mysteriously vague even with context (save a late emotional climax of sorts that leans on the "another song written about you" trope).

Admittedly, The Written Years doesn't always feel captivating at every turn, feeling as though the second half drags it into a somewhat stagnant musical shamble. It becomes too often easygoing (albeit nicely written) background fare. All things considered, though, the Written Years sound quite well-developed just two years into their existence, with a pleasing debut that occasionally mesmerizes. If they could stretch it into a more consistent offering retaining this sort of attention to detail, they'd be an undeniable force even worthier of the accolades their peers get.

Check it out here.