London’s Deaf Havana have spent a large portion of their 11 year career as the underdogs of the UK rock scene, despite possessing whirlpool’s of talent and charisma; the music industry hasn’t always been overtly kind to the quintet. Subsequently, the bands’ performance at 2014’s Reading and Leeds festival was set to be one of their last. Citing financial pressures and an ever weakening passion for the band – frontman James Veck-Gilodi came close to shutting the doors on Deaf Havana for good.
A lot can change in two and a half years, and the Londoner’s are set to make their return with new record All These Countless Nights. The record is said to be the most lyrically honest James has ever been. But what stands out most from the album is not just lyrical poignancy. Instead, what becomes clear is that Deaf Havana have developed into the kind of band that British rock music so desperately needs; talented, diverse and relentless.
While previous records such as 2013’s Old Souls and 2011’s Fools And Worthless Liars saw the band expand from what was previously a somewhat hardcore band into a more cultured, groove centric band with even the added spice of some country influences – All These Countless Nights is the uncompromisingly strong bridge between sombre acoustic melodies, and alt-rock thumpers.
Singles ‘Sing’ and ‘Trigger’ are simplistic in their manner but heart-warming in their delivery, with big, no-nonsense choruses that are delivered with such self-confidence from Veck-Gilodi that they are certain to become sing-along moments to remember in Deaf Havana’s live set. While ‘L.O.V.E’ and ‘Fever’ feature a more pounding, thicker guitar tone to them which stick to the general conventions of alt-rock yet seem fluid and charismatic at the same time.
It’s inside the solemn, acoustic chasms that the record fulfils its potential however. Both ‘Happiness’ and ‘St Paul’s’ flip between heart-numbing verses and cheerful choruses which become instantly relatable. The ability for Deaf Havana to shine acoustically has been present since the formation of the band, but has been mastered here, and is a signifier of the growth that the band have made.
The constant push and pull between acoustic melody and pacey alt-rock runs in fragments pretty much throughout the entirety of All These Countless Nights, and while the two would seem to juxtapose each other, at no point does the record become jarring. Both ‘Pretty Low’ and ‘Like A Ghost’ begin with a flickering lead riff before exploding into an all-encompassing flurry of musicianship, while ‘England’ is more groove centric, with essences of freestyle showmanship standing as examples of how easily the five-piece can change up the pace.
All These Countless Nights is a full bodied, pulsating expression from a band that have been through hardships, but have ultimately come out the other side with the best piece of work they have ever produced. Deaf Havana are a band that seem to have found the perfect balance between pop and alt-rock, the result? An album that could potentially transcend both genres.
Review by Kristian Pugh