It’s bizarre now looking back at the British pop-punk explosion that marked the beginning of the decade. In 2011 You Me At Six released Sinners Never Sleep, Mallory Knox burst onto the scene with their Pilot EP, We Are The Ocean dropped Go Now and Live, Young Guns tracked Bones and Deaf Havana released Fools and Worthless Liars. With the exception of Mallory Knox, each of these bands released disappointing follow ups, and their other contemporaries fared no better; the Americanised pop-punk of bands like Neck Deep pushing their more straight-faced contemporaries out of pop-punk, and emo revival bands like Moose Blood reclaiming the sadder parts of pop-punk to their early 2000s stylings. In short, British pop-punk had either become American-style pop-punk, or American-style emo revival.
This month marks a renaissance of sorts. You Me At Six dropped Night People, an album of surprising quality that still sounded fresh. However, they might as well have been warming people back up for Deaf Havana.
Reading Festival 2014 was meant to be Deaf Havana’s funeral. Mismanagement by their management team had left the band badly in debt and exhausted. When I saw the band at Cambridge Junction warming up for Reading they felt like a band with nothing left to give. Performing well but with no spark it seemed like 2014 had been the death note of serious British pop-punk. Then, in the closing days of 2015, out of nowhere, came the single ‘Cassiopeia’. Heavy yet catchy like post-reunion Fall Out Boy on steroids, it showed a band at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, angry and passionate: everything that had made Fools and Worthless Liars such a masterpiece. It took a while before the band surfaced again, doing so with the first single from All These Countless Nights, ‘Sing’. With the release of ‘Trigger’ and ‘Fever’ as build-up singles it felt like a band renewed.
All These Countless Nights delivers on the promise of these singles. With moments of ethereal beauty, such as ‘Like a Ghost’ and the bridge on ‘L.O.V.E.’, juxtaposed with riffing monsters such as ‘Sing’ and ‘Fever’ it is an album that sees a band pushing their limits in the complete opposite direction of the folk-rock Old Souls that saw so much of their fan base desert them, secret Springsteen fans like myself excluded.
With this, the band’s fourth full length effort, there is not a foot wrong. The wonderful guitar of their debut, the brilliant lyricism and melodies of their previous magnum opus Fools and Worthless Liars and the experimentation of Old Souls, this is a record that hits. Songs bridge everything the band have ever done in terms of sound. ‘Like a Ghost’ starts and ends of soft beauty goes through swaggering pop-punk and has a titanic alt-rock breakdown Brand New would be proud of – almost every song has a similarly broad range.
With All These Countless Nights a band on the brink have managed to find what made them great in the first place, dust it off and use it better than ever before. After Old Souls, an underrated album in my opinion but hated by many others, Deaf Havana were written off as a joke, early 20-somethings with no real place in a changing music scene. You Me At Six and Deaf Havana were the first bands to show the decline of British pop-punk. They also appear to be the first bands bringing it back.
‘All These Countless Nights’ is out now.
Deaf Havana play the LCR on February 23rd: tickets.