Album Review: Deaf Havana – The Present is a Foreign Land

The Present is a Foreign Land sees Deaf Havana elevate their unique sound to a whole new, comforting level.

Last month, brothers James and Matty Veck-Gilodi released their 12-track record The Present is a Foreign Land, and if you find the album title so relatable, you should wait until you hear the entire thing!

About the record itself, the band have said “We’re just incredibly excited to be releasing The Present is a Foreign Land today. It’s a record that means a huge amount to us, and I can’t really believe that it’s finally going to be out in the world! We put a lot of ourselves into making it and as a result we’ve never been prouder of our music. I hope people connect with it and love it because we really do.”

Across the twelve songs, the duo explore well-known themes like imposter syndrome, conquering arduous life obstacles and self-discovery. The album opens with the line “I was on a bridge in Singapore, thinking of jumping. Then I looked up at the skyline and it made me think of London. It used to be my home, now it’s a place I can’t afford. It’s all my fault.” James sings on Pocari Sweat and whilst it is the familiar brilliance in song writing that hooks you right in, the crisp moody pop-infused sound give the lyrics more room to breathe than they may have had on previous Deaf Havana records.

Thinking that the band were nearly ready to call it quits after a whole decade and this record would have never happened seems like we almost need to thank the pandemic for giving Matty space and time to continue writing songs and getting back into the studio with his brother to produce and record this gem.

Throughout The Present Is A Foreign Land, it is obvious the two have done some serious growing up, both musically and lyrically. Yet on tracks like On The Wire, the band haven’t lost their grandeur and arena rock spirit a bit. The gospel aspects of the track take the listener right into a spiritual experience, and now imagine this surrounded by thousands of people… sign me up!

And whilst adding a great dash of indie pop into the mix, Deaf Havana never completely let go of their alt-rock roots. Some songs like 19dreams reminisce of All These Countless Nights but yet seamlessly flow within The Present Is A Foreign Land, and yet it’s effortlessly fresh and exciting.

Closing track Remember Me showcases the band’s new direction and poppier side with a gospel choir seeing you out at the end and cementing the spiritual experience that The Present Is A Foreign Land is.

Deaf Havana have not lost themselves throughout the toughest two years any musician has had to endure, they have in fact very much found themselves without losing sight of where they’ve come from. The Present Is A Foreign Land fundamentally shows the duo as comfortable as they’ve ever been writing songs that are relatable and repeatable.