Album Reviews

Deaf Havana

The Present is a Foreign Land

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The entire career of Deaf Havana has been rather stop/start with vulnerabilities and insecurities often holding back; ironically though it’s also those same traits that have made the band such essential listening in the past.

The band has had many highs but their previous effort, ‘Rituals’ and the touring that followed saw the band perhaps at their lowest. The band clearly had high hopes for the record and hoped the pop direction and polished visuals would contribute to their greatest successes, only to be demoralised when the album fell flat and the bands momentum actually faded instead of escalated.

Watching some of their final UK shows on that album cycle, it was clear there were issues. The passion appeared to be gone and it felt as though the band were simply going through the motions. It was not really a surprise then at the end of last year that James and Matthew Veck-Gilodi revealed that the band had planned to split in early 2020.

Instead the duo announced that they were now the only remaining members but that new music was coming. That new music comes now in the shape of the bands sixth studio album, ‘The Present is a Foreign Land’.

It’s been a turbulent musical journey from their post-hardcore debut, through their folk rock and alt rock albums to the pop sound of ‘Rituals’. The first question for me was, which Deaf Havana would appear on this album, and secondly would whichever version appearing be any good?

Deaf Havana – ‘Going Clear’

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The brutally honest lyricism of their finest work presents itself instantly on the opening track, ‘Pocari Sweat’, and their peak ‘Those Countless Nights’ vibe comes out on early highlight, ‘19dreams’. Soon enough some of those folk influences emerge, before the pop sound makes its presence known also.

The answer to that first question clearly being, E. All of the Above! This certainly feels like a fresh start for the band, a new beginning, but one that recognises just where they have come from.

On the second point of quality, this is leaps and bounds ahead of the poorly executed experiment that ‘Rituals’ felt like. This feels more like the band that many tipped for huge success. The pop sensibilities are here to stay but they have been intertwined with the sounds that made you fall in love with the band.

Whereas ‘Rituals’ felt forced, ‘The Present is a Foreign Land’ feels like the natural evolution of Deaf Havana. This band is far too good to disappear, so let’s be glad that they’ve emerged from this latest change still with important things to say!

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