Overall Score: 8/10 Comeback Energy : 10/10 Fresh sound : 7/10 Nostalgia : 8/10 Pros: Deaf Havana making a return to music, catchy tracks with gorgeous musical backing Cons: Track listing taking giving a jarring experience at times with too much going on
Back in 2019 it looked like the days of new music from DEAF HAVANA were over. Fast forward a few years; brothers James and Matthew Veck-Gilodi are back as a duo with a brand new release.
What stands out so much about new album The Present Is A Foreign Land is a bold sense of accountability and vulnerability. From the get go with opening track Pocari Sweat we’re left knowing we will be in for an emotional roller coaster with no stone left unturned.
As with any musical project, coming back with a different line up presents a range of challenges; such as managing fan expectations, knowing you’ve made the right decision sticking at it, and still making enough of a new mark to grab people’s attention so they refuse to let go. The Veck-Gilodi brothers have done that and more. It’s a daunting experience to put on a new album from such a loved band and not know if we’re going to be left longing for older times.
The Present Is A Foreign Land manages to boast DEAF HAVANA‘s signature sound which has been perfectly curated over the years, while also injecting a bold and fresh lease of life into this new venture. Throughout the listen, tracks have moments where we’re thinking back to older records and being left excited with what the brothers have done moving forward.
Throughout DEAF HAVANA‘s back catalogue, there has always been a strong presentation of darker and lived experiences told through powerful lyrics. Sharing personal and dark experiences is a daunting task. As a listener it can be scary to face those emotions even through another person. With such honesty expressed, James and Matthew have found the perfect balance to create a safe space to let everything out. This album further embraces exploring owning mistakes in a way which makes us feel comfortable.
I Put You Through Hell offers a bright pop sound while still offering heavier and more dramatic moments that aid in giving this album such a strong feel that leaves us hungry for more. Going into more heartfelt moments, Nevermind offers the ballad that pulls on our heart strings and really shows the more vulnerable side to the album. Nevermind features stunning violins throughout; adding to the overall raw feeling pin-pointed so early on in the album. There is a magic about this track that gives off strong story telling and putting you right at the centre of James‘ emotions and experiences.
On The Wire stands out as one of the more distinctive tracks on the album that really shows a new lease of life with DEAF HAVANA. With a powerful choir sound, this track feels like it embodies everything experiences about pulling through the darker times to come out the other side feeling like a survivor.
Another track that really stood out as an introduction to a fresh era of DEAF HAVANA comes in the form of Help. With an opening that has us thinking of MUMFORD AND SONS, theatrical trumpets to kick things off, this track feels bright, bold, and beautiful.
Although a strong album, at times when listening front to back it can feel a little jarring. Going from upbeat and loud pop hits to heart breaking ballads makes the first few listens feel like a disjointed experience. Throughout there are moments where it feels as though too many different sounds are being experimented with at once, but it’s something to be expected with such a dramatic change in line up and having to find your feet as a band without repeating too much from the past. With this album being the introduction to a new era of DEAF HAVANA, it’s incredibly exciting to see what else is to come and how the new dynamic holds up with live shows. Theres not an ounce of doubt it will be anything less than spectacular.
The Present Is A Foreign Land is available now via So Recordings.
For more information on DEAF HAVANA, like their official page on Facebook.