May, 2010. Deaf Havana announces that their lead (unclean) vocalist, Ryan Mellor could not continue with them on their musical career due to personal reasons. The band was to go on without him, now a four-piece, backing vocalist James Veck-Gilodi taking up the singing mantle. Many doubted what would become of this promising young band.
November, 2011. The band are set to release their sophomore effort, Fools and Worthless Liars. Their first major label release. And what a release it is. Fools and Worthless Liars sees Deaf Havana attacking any person willing to question the future of them without their frontman. This is an album to get excited about, worth ever amount of time you set aside to listen to it. Delve deep into it. Enjoy it.
Where most bands would open an album with a loud, aggressive tune with a resounding chorus and massive guitars, Deaf Havana open with a simple, yet effective, acoustic track titled The Past 6 Years, an almost documentary of what has happened since this band was formed. This song hits the nail on the head and, at the very least, will surprise any listener used to Deaf Havana’s previous efforts. A vast change from what you might find on their previous album, Meet Me Halfway, At Least. Almost reminiscent of Frank Turner, this song grows on the listener with every 3 minutes invested into it.
But the album doesn’t sit at this pace. It climbs, quite high, with the following tracks picking up speed. Youth In Retrospect and I Will Try engage the listener, especially I Will Try, whose infective chorus leaves you singing along before the end of the song.
Personal favourite Little White Lies follows, and leaving a little glimpse of what Deaf Havana was, it only shows how much they’ve grown as a band, and musically. Lyrically similar, though musically miles apart from previous efforts, this song truly is one of the best on the album. With guest vocals by Portia Conn, the welcome female presence only adds to this song.
While Veck-Gilodi is a “clean vocalist”, that doesn’t stop him from giving a go at more aggressive styles of singing. We see this in tracks such as Anemophobia and Filthy Rotten Scoundrel. And he does not disappoint. But his vocal range is not the only great thing about this album. The entire musical package sits together brilliantly, complimenting eachother in ways that most bands strive to achieve. One typical example of this is the opening to track 9, Things Change, Friends Leave and Life Doesn’t Stop For Anybody, where Chris Pennel’s guitar introduces the song, swiftly followed by Veck-Gilodi, Tom Ogden and finally Lee Wilson on bass.
Other great tracks on the album include the first single, I’m A Bore, Mostly… Released back in early October, it showcased the new direction the band would be taking without the presence of Mellor. While some may not like this direction, I can only feel as though Deaf Havana will garner more fans than they will lose.
Hunstanton Pier is another clear winner of a song, opening with a gorgeous acoustic guitar chiming away behind Veck-Gilodi’s lyrics, only for the song to be burst open when the rest of the band cut in. Plus, a song which pokes fun at Jeremy Kyle at one point can’t be that bad, can it?
13 tracks is sometimes considered long for albums these days, but at no point does this one drag. At number 12, Nelson’s County keeps the pace and quality going, and briskly leads into album closer, Fifty Four. This track breaks whatever similarity you can find between the previous twelve, and strays into finer material. This final track alone is worth more than much of the music circling the charts these days.
Not only is this an album to get excited about, but if you are unfamiliar with their previous work, this is a band to get excited about. In this critic’s opinion, it is tough to imagine how Deaf Havana could get much better. That said, I am willing to be surprised.
Download: Little White Lies, Hunstanton Pier, I’m A Bore, Mostly…, Fifty Four
Released: Fri 4th Nov 2011