Album Review

Deaf Havana are shiny and new for fifth album ‘Rituals’

The teasing is finally over, Deaf Havana’s fourth studio album Rituals is out. Coming from humble beginning of rock music and being friends with all of the pop punk bands, much like their counterparts have moved on to bigger, better, more mature pastures. Their change came slowly then all at once, Fools and Worthless Liars melancholic whilst Old Souls still had the soul-crushing lyrics, the songs were overall upbeat. It’s been such an overhaul I dare say I was expecting a “the old Deaf Havana can’t come to the phone right now, why? Because they’re dead” moment.

Rituals is a whole new beast for Deaf Havana and frontman James Veck-Gilodi isn’t afraid to alienate people. In an interview with Rocksound he talks about how Old Souls didn’t go down well with old fans but All These Countless Nights was the last album the band could legitimately do with their old sound. Veck-Gilodi also mentions how he basically just listens to pop music now so it’d be disingenuous to make an album that didn’t reflect that.

With a fresh sound also comes a new kind of writing, which included writing song titles first then the lyrics later: “It didn’t work always – there’s a couple of them where I didn’t manage to, like, fit the brief I guess. But it gave me something to work towards…I had, sort of, a theme in my head as well…I liked the juxtaposition of [pop songs] and then really miserable lyrics.”

‘Sinner’ is a upbeat number with pianos and synths layered between guitar grooves and James Veck-Gilodi’s signature vocals. The lyrics are the only thing that still seem very typical of the band. They delve into talk of religion and salvation as the band have covered numerous times before but there’s a happy acceptance here that we haven’t seen from Deaf Havana before.

If you fancy a wee cry ‘Saviour’ and ‘Pure’ are right there, the latter being the closest thing to old Deaf Havana you’ll get on Rituals. The music is so different to what’s come before, the lyrics are different. They’re softly spoken, forgiving, and even broken. There’s a real sense of acceptance where as before the fight against the sadness is what fuelled their music.

Overall Deaf Havana still stick to the melancholy song writing drenched in harsh realities that has served them well over the course of their career, but they have a new lust for life in the song that accompany the lyrics. Like a revamp of the original appeal of The Smiths in their lyrics about a hollow, unfulfilling world with a jangly guitar to accompany them. One can only hope that time will be kinder to James Veck-Gilodi.

Give Rituals a listen here.

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