Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
At first I was intimidated at the prospect of writing a review of Victoria’s Fountain. Their music is like a perfectly smooth, Kubrick monolith, complete in form and quality — so what could I possibly hope to add? Well, despite the repeal of the penny, two cents have not devalued in the realm of cultural ciritique. Here goes!
I saw the band play their first bar show half a year ago: their material appeared out of all the typical equipment, but the level of professionalism and the meticulous craft of each tune provided an otherworldly character to their music. Every aspect of the performance was pristine and perfectly calculated. From that first gig, I knew the group was something special, and that tactile promise bears fruit on the new cassette release.
Fountain appear on record as they do live: like a hand-built machine of automated glory. Guitarist/ vocalists Evan Jeffries and Robert Coslett command a stage with calm determination, and that proves just as true for stereo speakers; their voices and tones balance together like carefully curated portraits staring at each other across a gallery floor. Drummer Laura Jeffries keeps the fuel burning at the heart of the Fountain machine, adding a spark of atmosphere to the intentionally stripped down beats. Bass player Declan Hughes is a secret weapon on the mixes, and he fills out a deep, consoling bottom end in the band’s sound.
The mechanisms of post-punk are present, but Fountain adopt these conventions with an adept freshness that leads to smiling. Minimal production — the material was recorded on a four-track in the band’s basement and mastered by Montreal’s own Marshall Vallaincourt — guarantees that little gets in the way of the musicianship on the record. Fans of Parquet Courts and Women will find lots to coo over: dissonant chord chugging and lyrics that portray scenes of alienation and twenty-first century inequality — “a new outfit, plastic shoes and a bag to live in” — abound.
The tracks come hard and fast: at just over four minutes, the closer, “New Age Prices,” doubles the length of any other track on the record. Every song is different, and the album feels like an exploration. Rhythms always drive forward, but the spaces to which the band travels are distinct scenic outposts. Notable destinations include: the frantic mania of “Graham Street Landmark”; the sinister mountain tops (read meticulously layered guitar melodies) of “Ladybug Mating Ritual”; and the bizarre, fuzzed-out parade and bubbling background voices of “Mineral Coat.” There’s a lot to be fond of on this new release.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)
Top Tracks: “New Age Prices” ; “Mineral Coat” ; “Jesus ’99”