Deaf Havana - Fools and Worthless Liars
Record Label: Wolf At Your Door/BMG
Release Date: November 6, 2011
When Ryan Mellor, the screaming vocalist who laid his mark so strongly on 'Meet Me Halfway, At Least' announced his departure just as the hype surrounding the Norfolk-based Deaf Havana was reaching boiling point, many fans let out a slow sigh.However, I can confidently submit without even the slightest shred of disrespect to Ryan (who was great at what he did), that his departure has proven to be a blessing in disguise - for Veck-Gilodi's songwriting talent is enormous.
Not originally confident with the idea of being a frontman and unsure as to where to find inspiration for Deaf Havana's second full-length offering, Veck-Gilodi chose to find personal inspiration from within. But is Fools and Worthless Liars just a 13-song whine about all that's wrong and unjust, or is it a genuinely well-crafted album that proves his gamble to have been worthwhile?
Fortunately, it is most certainly the latter.
The album opens boldly for a band known for their rock roots. Veck-Gilodi (from now on V-G) signals the changing of times with an acoustic effort, which provides a perfect and frank overview of the themes to come. One of the main themes in the album is how people seem to move on around and without him, and how we all want to cling on to the carefree nature of our youths. The tempo picks up swiftly however.
"Youth in Retrospect" is much more riff-centred, and it builds up gradually to a strong crocendo at the end. V-G jabs sarcastically at the inevitable process of ageing, singing Three cheers to growing up! The anthemic compositions continue with "I Will Try", which begins with a token [Whoa...oh-oh...ohhhhh!] and explains how it is important to attempt to remain positive even in the darkest of times. He semi-screams: [I got to/ I GOT to find a smile...] and the song finishes with an emotionally-charged outro, adding a new facet to its overall structure.
The hits then come thick and fast, with several tunes boasting single-potential: "Little White Lies" starts with a stunning guitar flurry, contains more frank lyrics [If I had any heart left, I'd give it all to you/To make up for the time spent, not telling the truth.] It's on this track too that Tom Ogden's drumwork, which is exceptional throughout the album, begins to show itself. Never ones to dwell on a single, formulaic approach to their songs, the song finishes with a female vocalist during the final chorus, succeeding in helping it soar to a new height. First single 'I'm a Bore, Mostly' features more soaring guitar-work and direct lyrics, as V-G describes the time he wastes wishing he had the natural talent of the late Kurt Cobain. Ogden's drumming once again propels the anthem, and the central theme of growing up is revisited as you can't help but sing along to V-G chanting: [Times are changing, we can go anywhere/But I'm far too cool to admit that I care.]
Then begins the first of the album's two masterpieces, the semi-acoustic "Hunstanton Pier". This, coupled with the incredible album closer, are the two examples of pure class that push this album into classic territory. It slows the album down, and serves as a frank yet gentle summary of V-G's childhood. After the first chorus, the song explodes and then continues to build until the finale. It is just such an accurate, wonderfully accessible and metaphor-free account of his (extremely normal) journey through adolescence that any man can relate to. As well as a chorus whose lyrics could stay with us forever, the middle-eight is so current: [The ones who haven't dies or started families/Are all just working building sites or battling university fees.] In a word, a gem.
Once the brilliance of this 5-minute story has sunk in, the next two songs (not due to any real lack of quality) seem to just pass you buy, and it's not until second single "Leeches" belts out at you how [Dreams aren't how they seemed when you were young] that you in effect wake back up. And a good job too, because it contains one of the most sing-along choruses in the band's catalogue. Next up is 'The World or Nothing', which is an all-encompassing appreciation, both lyrically and musically, of the entire work and it displays the best lyrics of the whole album. V-G laments: [I clip my wings just for an excuse/For not putting myself to better use/We all care too much about not caring enough/Cos we're all too scared to leave behind our youth.] The song also boasts an exceptional and positive outro, which would leave everyone utterly content were it the album's finale. But it's not, because they have better to offer. After the short and snappy 'Nelson's County' comes Fools and Worthless Liars' second masterpiece.
"Fifty Four" is simply stunning, and will be one of my very favourite songs until I die. It is completely stripped back, and provides us with an uplifting perspective of the future. Ogden shines here too, maintaining a rhythm perfect for the song's message. V-G conveys and repeats his central point with an apparent, but not overdone, sense of urgency, pushing us to take one chief lyric away: [I'll keep holding on 'cos we are young and we are free/And, my god, that's still good enough for me.] A simple yet incredible sentiment to end an amazing album.
It is true that I myself am 22 years old, adore this type of music and can connect with every single word he says. But the sheer quality of Fools and Worthless Liars renders such a disclaimer obsolete, for anyone and everyone can connect on some level with this album, even if at the very limit they (god fobid) ignore the lyrics, which could strike some as overly negative and self-critical at times, and just appreciate the rousing, upbeat and wonderfully-crafted musicianship going on over the top.
And perhaps the most remarkable thing about this album? No-one gave a screamless, "Friends Like These"-less Deaf Havana a chance. Hats off, Mr. Veck-Gilodi...
Fantastic album, although for me there isn't any real direction on the album. It would of sound better with maybe 2-3 less tracks. Still though, fantastic debut (The Band have asked for people to judge them as a new band) and they are sure to prove to be big competition for You Me At Six on the British pop-punk scene.