Deaf Havana are one of the contingent of bands that Kerrang! magazine like to put on a pedestal as the vanguard of modern rock, as being incredibly innovative and heartfelt. However, the offering that this album presents is mediocre at best – failing to offer any consistently meaningful experience.
The album opens with Ashes, Ashes, one of the better songs on the album – particularly distinguishable by it’s post-chorus piano part. This segues into Trigger, a catchy pop song built around one gun-centric metaphor that nevertheless has the ability to stick in the mind.
Based off these two opening tracks, the album seems quite promising, but it all starts to blur from here onwards. Any originality is lost to the sheer drone of songs like St. Paul’s, and attempts to sound meaningful are distorted either by repetition or by lyrical cliches – the tendency to insert “right now” at the end of almost any sentence to make it scan properly, for instance.
James Veck-Gilodi – the frontman – does explore some interesting themes on songs such as England. This explores his relationship with his homeland, and thoughts of whether he should be missing it and where he really belongs. The theme is, however, let down through clunky expression and predictable, forgettable music.
The band also throw in some random stylistic shifts for miniscule portions of songs that just don’t make sense – for instance, the vocal modulation in L.O.V.E., the phaser effect in Like a Ghost, and the jarring solo in Pretty Low. All of these have the effect of pulling the listener right out of any sense of atmosphere the track was creating, and should never have passed the production stage.
The album actually closes on a relative high, with Sing and Pensacola, 2013 being strong tracks in their own right. Sing has a much more energetic feel than the rest of the album – a blessed bit of variation – and Pensacola, 2013 closes the album off with some nicely personalized lyrics.
Overall, this album isn’t really bad. I wasn’t bored whilst listening to it, but had the sense by the end that I’d heard everything here before, and would not remember a single track afterwards. I get the sense that Deaf Havana are a band that think they’re deeper than they really are, when in reality they’re just bland, with tinges of personality that give you the sense that this could be a whole lot better. I wouldn’t listen to this one particularly if I were you, but it’s inoffensive enough that I won’t warn against it.
Best Songs: Ashes, Ashes; Trigger; Fever; Sing; Pensacola, 2013