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Deaf Havana - Rituals (Album Review)

Monday, 20 August 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

The intro to Deaf Havana’s ‘Rituals’ is a short ambient piece called Wake but, in truth, they might well have kicked things off with John Williams’ ominous theme music from the film Jaws. Having turned their back on everything that made them one of Britain’s finest young bands, the five piece have totally and utterly jumped the shark here.

Following in the footsteps of bands like Maroon 5, the Killers and You Me At Six, they have performed a stylistic volte face and adopted a synthetic, over-produced and relentlessly generic pop sound. A cynic might say such a move reflects a desperate desire to maintain mainstream success and attract younger audiences.

Gone are the dynamic, power-packed emo rock anthemics of both ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’ and ‘All These Countless Nights’, while a few spins of ‘Rituals’ will make you wonder what happened to the similarly named gang who created the Jimmy Eat World-meets-Bruce Springsteen masterpiece ‘Old Souls’.  

Every group has the right to evolve, but when they lose their identity by leaping on a congested bandwagon it doesn’t exactly scream artistic progression.

Queen were well known genre-hoppers but even ‘Hot Space’ - their terrible attempt at disco, funk and rap - still sounded like Freddie Mercury’s outfit, and at least served up the magnificent David Bowie duet Under Pressure. ‘Rituals’ has no such moments.  

Sinner isn’t the worst song in the world and, by itself, would have been a cool experiment. Unfortunately, track after track of familiar contemporary pop – replete with cliched vocal effects and every well-worn electronic production trick in the book – subsequently follows as one identikit song bleeds into the next.

Similarly, presenting their lyrics in such a faceless manner has led to any meaningful power or veracity being lost. Worse still, James Veck-Gilodi’s voice has been lacquered with the same auto-tuned, inorganic coating as everyone else in the charts. That’s a terrible shame as he is a wonderful vocalist whose soulful delivery and authentic angst usually gifts so much emotional depth to Deaf Havana's music.

Once ‘Rituals’ settles in a number of things might happen. Given that it offers the kind of homogenous sound you can hear regularly on Radio 1, there’s a good chance it will sell by the bucketload and give the band the success they clearly crave. If not, be prepared for a full scale retreat. Either way, the Deaf Havana of old are well and truly dead. Come to think of it, a track titled Wake is actually the perfect way to start this album.

Deaf Havana Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri December 07 2018 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

Click here to compare & buy Deaf Havana Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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