Sound — 9
When I first saw Deaf Havana (then a five piece screamo/post hardcore band from Norfolk a.k.a the middle of goddamn nowhere) 4 years ago supporting terrible local bands in a church hall in my grey commuter belt town, I had no idea they were capable of something this mature, well rounded and grandiose in scale. Actually, no one could have known. The band of those days is so far removed from who they are now. Whatever happened in between then and now, The result is one of the best pop-rock albums to emerge from England for a long, long time. "Fools And Worthless Liars" (henceforth "FAWL") is born of catharsis. Just over two years ago, screamer Ryan Mellor left the band for family reasons and the band found themselves without a frontman and lyricist on the brink of a support tour across the UK. Left in the lurch, the transformation from screamo upstarts to what they are now has been astonishing. Clean vocalist/guitarist James Veck-Gilodi, thrust unwillingly into the limelight of fronting a touring band, has turned from shy side man into one of the best frontmen in the UK scene and it's his signature croon and savvy pop tinged song writing that make "FAWL" a success. In fact, to say Veck-Gilodi's talent lies in song writing would be wrong. He doesn't write songs, he writes anthems and it's these anthems that make "FAWL" so impressive. Given that the album openly deals with the fear of growing up, it is surprisingly mature. You can forget the powerful, youthful, screaming energy and clean chorus combo that punctuated their debut "Meet Me Half Way At Least", this album (completely devoid of screams) is a pop rock tour de force. Opener "The Past Six Years", half "previously, on Deaf Havana..." and half Green Day's "Time Of Your Life" in nature, sets the scene perfectly and from the instance second track "Youth In Retrospect" kicks in the albums pace doesn't drop. It's frighteningly consistent. A perfect balance of Jimmy Eat World-esque hard edged pop songs such as "Leeches", "Nelsons County" and "Times Change, Friends Leave..." are blended with mid-paced anthems dotted with "wo-ohs" and hooks that could catch Moby Dick such as "I Will Try" and lead single "I'm A Bore, Mostly". What's more impressive is that these songs don't seem as if they're trying to be epic, they manage it effortlessly.
Lyrics — 9
Lyrically, Veck-Gilodi has dug very deep here, dealing with topics such as mental health, loneliness, regret and simply growing up in the middle of nowhere. Largely introspective and devoid of metaphor, his honest and retrospective lyrics are instantly relatable for anyone who has ever grown up. This, married with an emotionally driven delivery which is equal parts Kings Of Leon, Matt Bellamy and 90's boy band, strikes you as if he really, really means every word on this album. Unusually, there's only one love song here ("Fifty Four") which is commendably tastefully done. Part raconteur, part teen poet, Veck-Gilodi fills the lyrical and vocal breech left by Ryan Mellor's depature admirably. You wouldn't know that anything was ever any different.
Overall Impression — 9
I don't know what it is about this album. It's not my usual fare at all when it comes to listening to or playing music, but for some reason it really resonates with me. Maybe it's the lyrical content being in the right place at the right time? Maybe because it was recorded in the aforementioned grey, identikit commuter town where I grew up? Or maybe it's just very good album that I really didn't expect to like at all! The reality is that this is easily the best and most consistent album to emerge from the British rock/pop punk scene that has grown so strong since late last decade. The album's opening track states that they want to be "made plans to be more than just that band that had that song about friends and not much else". Mission accomplished, lads. For Fans of: Kings Of Leon, Jimmy Eat World. Download: "Hunstanton Pier", "The World Or Nothing", "I Will Try".