Album Review: Deaf Havana - Fools And Worthless Liars

It’s been a long time since we heard much from Deaf Havana, possibly the finest thing to come out of East Anglia since Alan Partridge. Things have changed too, since they rocked up with ‘Meet Me Half Way at Least’. James Veck-Gilodi has taken over full singing duties, and the raw post-hardcore sound (read: screaming) has been replaced by an emphasis on out-and-out rock.

A lot has been made of this departure, but the transition is smoothed by the fact Veck-Gilodi is a fantastic vocalist, with a large enough range to sound like two different singers at various points on their new album ‘Fools And Worthless Liars’. He may seem like a reluctant frontman, and his battle with writer’s block for this album is well-documented, but to say that he and Deaf Havana have nailed it may just be an understatement.

To start with the acoustic ‘The Past Six Years’ is a middle-finger to those fans already disapproving of the band’s perceived shift to less hardcore music (read: no screaming). It’s a song that could have come right off a Frank Turner record and gives an early indication of the band’s greatest strength, their lyrics.

Rarely has a band stripped down the essence of being in a band as much as Deaf Havana manage to on this mature effort. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of Reuben, with the lyrics verging on the mundane, but still managing to be instantly relatable.

For an album that spends much of time lamenting being bored or the limitations of being young and apathetic, there’s a remarkable vein of optimism that seems to run through the whole thing. Neither the lyrics nor the understated but powerful instrumentation dawdles in the downbeat. The move away from a pigeonholed sound (read: screamo) has really given Deaf Havana the freedom to explore their sound. ‘Little White Lies’ sits somewhere between The Dangerous Summer and Transit and when a second vocalist joins in, it’s a female presence that delivers the final chorus.

The albums biggest one-two punch comes with the first single ‘I’m a Bore, Mostly’ and ‘Hunstanton Pier’, two songs that easily could have fallen into self-indulgent territory, but the band’s obvious ear for the hook and the booming chorus turn them into two of the best on the album. The former being a more recognizable Deaf Havana number, again relying on Veck-Gilodi’s experiences of writing the album to make it a rallying cry for any 20- something who feels like their potential is being unrealized. It’s left to the latter to tread even more worn lyrical content – a lament to the hometown that, while once hated, has its value increase in light of a move away. Yet Deaf Havana manage to breathe life into this stale topic, once again by picking up the acoustic and building towards a huge climax. It’s a stadium song that will probably spend its fledgling years played in O2 Academy2’s and bars, but you’d be lying if you said you couldn’t imagine this at the biggest venues the UK has to offer.

There’s no single bad song on this album, and there’s plenty that get better and better on repeat listens. ‘The World or Nothing’, however, is just a flat-out anthem, and guaranteed to be a fan-favorite. It’s probably the simplest guitar line on the album, but it finds Deaf Havana at their most concise and most powerful.

Delivering on every level, on nearly every track, ‘Fools And Worthless Liars’ is one of 2011’s best albums. It’s familiar musical territory traversed in an engaging, mature and stylish manner – breathing fresh life into the genre and highlighting Deaf Havana as the British rock band to watch out for.

4.5/5

‘Fools And Worthless Liars’ is out now.

Nick Robbins

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