Friday, 11 November 2011

Review: Deaf Havana - Fools and Worthless Liars

 For me, Deaf Havana have been the perfect example of an up-and-coming British rock band that I keep reading about and seeing their names being referred in magazines and radio but do not feel any sort of care about them, until listening to their music, where my attitude changes dramatically. It's not the first time I've had this change of heart. The same thing has happened with The Blackout, Young Guns and Arcane Roots, all of whom have stunned me with their hard-edged rock music which has the tendency to visit metallic territory. Deaf Havana doesn't share the same style, their punk infused alternative rock is complete with sweeping hooks and has an upbeat rhythm, but on their second album Fools and Worthless Liars is more remarkable in the lyrical sense, as they present a real sense of bitterness self-loathing and tragedy.

 Not to dismiss the musical skills entirely, as I say, the album brings together mellow indie rock sections mixed with jagged punk hooks and breakdowns which gives the album a scuzzier effect. This really helps to characterize the anger and heavy emotion found on Times Change, Friends Leave and Life Doesn't Stop for Anybody, the fun sense of anger found on Filthy Rotten Scoundrel and the soft-but-prominent sense of bitterness and annoyance felt on The Past Six Years. The band show a real ability to make a catchy and streamlined rock sound, which still manages to carry with it a sense of emotion and pop-rock grace.
 More interesting is the lyrics the album provides in various songs, which sound like nothing I've ever heard before. At times the have the ability to be warm and uplifting. For the most part they manage to get quite heart breaking in their sense of self-tragedy and literalism, like in I'm a Bore, Mostly, as frontman James Veck-Gilodi sings in his melancholic vocals "So I try to drag my fragile frame through another day/ And another dose of caffeine in my veins/ My body aches and my mouth is full of sores/ And I've reached the verdict that mostly, I'm a bore." This sense of tragedy and self-hatred is seen best in the line in Anemophobia "I caught a glimpse of my reflection and didn't recognise my face".
 Elsewhere, a bitterness that the group have surprisingly showed is revealed in opener The Past Six Years, as Veck-Gilodi states "Through these cynical old bitter eyes the futures' hard to see", and the seemingly infamous lines "Mike's on daytime radio John played Reading & Leeds/ And I'm still play the Purple Turtle at New Year's Eve". With Mike and John referring to Mike Duce of Lower Than Atlantis and John being John Taylor of Young Guns and comparing their successes to Deaf Havana still being stuck doing new year shows in Camden, gives a clear sense of bitterness towards other bands who I would never care about previously and personally, my enjoying of Deaf Havana makes this more tragic since I never really managed to get into Lower Than Atlantis.
 In suggesting that it's all doom and gloom, there's a genuine sense of hope to be found in the beautiful I Will Try with the wonderful line "And I will try my best to find a smile/ And I will close my eyes and say I'm not afraid this time". This gives a genuine sense of optimism to the album and really manages to lift spirits.
 On the whole, Fools and Worthless Liars shows Deaf Havana giving their own sense of originality and passion to the ever-growing world of streamlined pop-rock. But it's not the type you could feel cynical about. Because it doesn't feel polished, or made for radio. It's just very enjoyable indeed. And it's got some of the most gripping lyrics I've heard for a while.

 Deaf Havana's Fools and Worthless Liars is out now via BMG. The band will tour the UK in December with Architects, Tek One and Heights.

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