Review Summary: The musical diary of a cynical twenty something.
Hailing from Norfolk in the UK, Deaf Havana have spent the past five years building up a solid fan base to some considerable success; a time highlighted by several CD releases and extensive touring, gaining a reputation for their energetic live shows and for their blend of post-hardcore that mixed the Keith Buckley-esque screams of vocalist Ryan Mellor with the soulful cleans of guitarist James Veck-Gilodi. Just as the band seemed to be peaking; a support slot on Emarosa’s UK tour and the successful release of their first LP appeared to cement this, the band lost Mellor and stated their intention to carry on as a five piece with a new musical direction. Naturally, suspicions were arose by many, with more than a few disbelieving that the band would release anything worthwhile without their screamer. Oh how wrong they were.
In fact, with ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’, Deaf Havana all but realise the potential that they had shown since their early days. Gone are the aggressive verses juxtaposed with clean choruses, the Every Time I Die influenced riffs and occasionally disjointed song writing; they are instead replaced by something much greater. Veck-Gilodi’s vocals have always been the highlight of the group, his unique soulful yearn is comparable to that of Jonny Craig at times in that it ranges from poppy crooning to throaty growls and with their newest effort Deaf Havana make full use of his ability, showcasing the talents of one of the UK’s rising stars. On a musical level, the sound portrayed on ‘Fools’ oozes originality whilst wearing its influences on its sleeve, blending U2-esque guitar lines with huge stadium rock drumming, providing a perfect backing for the aforementioned stand out vocals. Whilst the sound is accessible and poppy it is no less grand, the production is incredibly slick and the balance of power and beauty is nothing short of spot on.
Highlights from the record come in the form of the enormous ‘I’m a Bore, Mostly’, first single ‘The World or Nothing’ and ‘Little White Lies’, the latter of which features the silky smooth vocals of British youngster Portia Conn and has future single written all over it. The most impressive thing about this album however is the maturity of the young band’s writing, particularly in the lyric department. Instead of singing about failed relationships and love lost Veck-Gilodi instead sings about what he seems to know best; Morrissey-esque cynicism and a hatred for aging as could only be had by an early twenty-something living in modern working class Britain. This is perhaps most apparent in the track ‘Youth in Retrospect’, in which he laments:
‘Oh retrospect, it's a curse we can't prevent
And the days we loved the most have all been spent’
Of course ‘Fools’ is not without its flaws, some tracks are simply not quite as strong as others, ‘Nelson’s County’ springs to mind particularly as a filler track. This does little to tarnish an otherwise excellent record from one of the UK’s most promising rock bands. It is an impressive first chapter in a new book and the potential for future growth is enormous. Given the right backing and direction Deaf Havana could find themselves somewhere among the elite of the UK’s current crop, only time will tell.