Deaf Havana - Fools and Worthless Liars
- By John Watts -
- Nov 16, 2011
How does one overcome writer’s block?
For writers and lyricists, lyrical dysfunction is the bane of our lives and with no prescriptive cure available it can seem logical to throw away the pen rather than stare at another blank page. Despite his best efforts, Deaf Havana frontman, James Veck-Gilodi, struggled to overcome an abrupt collision with the brick wall just as his band began work on their sophomore album.
Having penned a mere two songs in 12 months, and bludgeoned by the amicable departure of fellow vocalist Ryan Mellor, proceedings in the Havana camp had long surpassed the stage of desperation. Trapped and challenged in London Veck-Gilodi returned home to Norfolk in a last chance saloon to set things straight. Slowly but surely the countryside reacquaintance provided the troubled frontman with the perfect tonic to regain his song-writing prowess.
The result is bleak, brutal, and at times, bordering on the beautiful. Lyrically, the band sound stronger than ever with recurring references to modern culture littered throughout. Even our generation's scum-busting town crier, Jeremy Kyle, gains recognition.
Building on this theme, acoustic opener ‘The Past Six Years’ proves to be an insightful reflection upon not only the band’s youth but teen culture today. Chris Pennells’ melodic guitar helps unravel Veck-Gilodi's inner envy, as well as a few home-truths about how certain songs mean half as much as they should do to him. It’s a surprising, albeit fantastic, opening gambit which offers stark contrast to the loud and hectic sounds the Norfolk-ites built their reputation on.
However, ‘Youth in Retrospect’ sees a return to the norm as Tom Ogden’s powerful drums, coupled with Lee Wilson’s impressive four-string range, provide the perfect base for the first passionate sing-along of the record. The U2-inspired effects on ‘Little White Lies’ pack some punch as does lead single, ‘I’m a Bore, Mostly’ and the falsetto-ladden 'Filthy Rotten Scoundrel', but as far the heavier stuff goes, this is as good as it gets.
Although the record's consistency is admirable it fails to deliver the all-important hardcore number fans of old would have been screaming out for. Both ‘Leeches’ and ‘Nelson’s County’ are in desperate need of a Mellor howl to toughen them up whereas ‘Anemophobia’ lacks edge and is instantly forgettable.
Fortunately, redemption is found in the album's standout ballad 'Hunstanton Pier'. Beggining as a stripped down semi-acoustic piece and building towards something which teeters on the epic, Veck-Gilodi reminisces about a local landmark which holds a special place in his heart.
Album two will forever be a tough nut to crack and even though the bread-and-butter tracks still leave a lot to be desired, FAWL displays emotional maturity which can only bode well for the future. If Deaf Havana can find the right balance then there is no reason that as to why they cannot follow in the mainstream footsteps of touring buddies You Me at Six. For four young lads from Nelson's County that would be some achievement.
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