Friday, July 15, 2022

19 Dreams, Clarity And A Vulnerability Like No Other: Deaf Havana Release Sixth Album ‘The Present Is A Foreign Land’

With the effects of the global pandemic and lockdown becoming nothing but a fleeting nightmare, for most, 2018 was a lifetime ago. That’s exactly how it feels since Deaf Havana released their previous album ‘Rituals.’ But the good news is the long wait is finally over as they make their grand return with their sixth studio album, ‘The Present Is A Foreign Land.’

All seemed lost for the Norfolk alternative rock band on the backend of the ‘Rituals’ era; after 10 years together, they seemed they were going their separate ways. But after a three-year hiatus and lineup reformation, Deaf Havana are officially back. Now a duo consisting of Mathew Veck-Gilodi and James Veck-Gilodi, they have never sounded more like themselves with clarity and vulnerability.

‘Can’t really be homesick when your whole life’s a mess / getting sick of my drinking? Well, I couldn’t care less.’ This is one of the lyrics to the opening track ‘Pocari Sweat’ and is the perfect way to kick start the entire sixth album. The track shows an instant level of candid vulnerability in the perspective of James Veck-Gilodi in a laggard state, lost and mesmerized, as though it is filling in the gaps between this album and the previous. There is a vital element of story-telling, painting a picture of a low mental state and slowly building up in pace and emotion. Putting the listener right in the moment, it is evident that we are in for an epic and emotional album. 

‘19 Dreams’ was the first track written on the new album by Mathew Veck-Gilodi; it is filled to the brim with alternative rock riffs and a chorus reminiscent of their fourth album ‘All These Countless Nights.’ But despite this familiarity, there is a big difference, with an added wave of indistinct pop through soft pianos and melodic guitars. 

‘Nevermind’ is a heartfelt and emotive track that gives listeners an honest insight into the lowest point of vocalist James Veck-Gilodi’s life. Stripping down to simplistic guitar strings and keys allows the lyrics to come through and channels those emotions through his vocals.   

Full of nostalgia and contemplation, the track ‘Kids’ was written for themselves and is a retrospective romance of a home town, reminiscing of the times you can’t get back. Upbeat and feel-good, ‘Kids’ takes a look at what is and what could have been; perfect for summer and a personal highlight of the album and is one to watch out for during live shows. 

'Going Clear' is a song about addiction, its effect on loved ones and the clarity of going sober. Straightforward and simple, the clever use of juxtaposition makes this track more complex. On first listen, it comes across as cheery with an overall buoyant feel. Even the lines 'I do lines on the weekend / I do lines with my 'real friends' are chanted with such optimism it draws the listener in with this false pretense. However, the lyrics have a sinister undertone: 'Don't you say a prayer for me / sometimes I pray I die in my sleep.'  Deaf Havana is once again able to create a vivid image in the minds of the listener, toying with their emotions. With James Veck-Gilodi going sober whilst recording this album, there is a sense of clarity, but he can tap into these experiences and creates a powerful message as a result. 

With more clarity than ever, there is no mistaking Deaf Havana have made the ultimate comeback. Taking elements from previous albums, ‘Old Souls,’ ‘All These Countless Nights’ and ‘Rituals;’ ‘The Present Is A Foreign Land’ is without a doubt an exciting new chapter in the duo's journey. With more clarity than ever, James and Mathew are not afraid to dive deep into a level of vulnerability that will captivate and create a stronger bond with fans.

Deaf Havana have found the definite sound, mixing the old with the new ‘The Present Is A Foreign Land’ is a truly spectacular album.

Ana Joy King


Image: ‘The Present Is A foreign Land’ Official Album Cover

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