Old Souls might be the most appropriately titled album of the year. Deaf Havana‘s trademark feel-good sound mixed with emotionally charged lyrics return on the band’s third LP with a decisive edge of maturity to the music. The record’s twelve tracks are the world as seen through experienced eyes, the veteran of their catalog.
Much of the sound 2011’s Fools and Worthless Liars is still inherent in their music, but the band has grown since then. The chilly New England coast feel abounds in the opener “Boston Square,” which finds the insanely talented James Veck-Gilodi crooning like Jim Adkins or Springsteen. With its nostalgic chorus and anthemic hooks, it is easily fitting for a sitcom theme or a reflective time-lapse. “Lights” is one of the most memorable tracks, carrying over a heavy Fools vibe. The harmonized vocals in the beginning lead into an incredibly big chorus that swells like a first kiss. It’s a perfect example of how much tighter the band has gotten since they last released an album. They’re tightly woven and play off of each other nicely, knowing when to hold back and when to explode.
The band isn’t afraid to try new things, either. The horns in the beginning of “Everybody’s Dancing and I Want to Die” give an almost ska feel, especially when they reappear in the second half of the song (that trumpet solo is wicked). Overall, the album has a much more indie vibe than what the band are known for, more Anberlin than Mallory Knox. “Caro Padre” starts with Veck-Gilodi crooning to beat JT and ends with just him and an acoustic singing the chorus. Stylistically, the album is definitely a statement of their musical growth.
Lyrically, Veck-Gilodi seems to be reminiscing on youthful scenes with a bite of nihilism, evident in such songs as “Mildred” with its teenage bedroom scene and “Saved” with rather condemning lyrics about a significant other in the past. There are many references to age (22 is an obvious focus, with a song called “22”) which makes one wonder if Old Souls is some nostalgic concept album about the young life. It might be “old man’s pop,” at least in sound (Veck-Gilodi does resemble an early Jimmy Page in the “Boston Square” video), but it’s powerful nonetheless.
For a fan of Deaf Havana, Old Souls won’t disappoint. Though it has its moments, it’s surprisingly strong considering the more laid-back style. Sit back and let Veck-Gilodi serenade you about life, and don’t be shocked if you find yourself thinking about eighties movies and teenage escapades.