Written with a fresh, interesting approach; here we found front-man James Veck-Gilodi throwing out the usual Deaf Havana rule-book to jot down no more than just some potential song names first. He would then write songs according to those titles, fitting the lyrics and music around those ideas and concepts, with the band then completing them in the studio once satisfied. The end result? The 13 tracks we have right now making up “Rituals”…let’s check it out.
The album rather appropriately opens up with “Wake” and while a completely separate body of work it’s still as though there’s this redeeming narrative that both aforementioned bands are focusing on; the morning after the night before, referencing the previous albums. No more than a 40 second intro with the words “You can fall” repeated in a choir-esque fashion…very hushed but slowly climbing in volume and presence, before cutting off and leading into first track proper “Sinner”. An incredibly jovial track combining elements of soft indie-rock and boy-band pop melodies; an incredibly light-hearted take on James’ own personal past experiences; a song of admittance and acceptance delivered with a very British stiff upper lip, but it’s very easy listening and enjoyable.
This general tone musically carries through the album fairly consistently…even conceptually as far as the single-word song titles. “Holy” utilises a subtle, underlying funk-inspired feel coinciding with the already established indie-pop vibe, backed with more choir accompaniment courtesy of the London Contemporary Voice Choir…”Worship” too with its percussion-driven acoustic tones and minimal synths makes for a very laid back listen, which can also be said for “Fear”, while album highlight “Pure” is rich in rhythm and delivers a simple yet effective chorus, even teasing at James’ grittier vocal qualities, highlighting his passion as a singer.
Some of the tracks do plod along, barely escaping 2nd gear towards the end of the album mind, with “Heaven” again utilising the help of the choir, providing gospel-inspired gang vocals over a generally slower, stripped back track, while the albums longest offering “Saint” makes you wish you had the patience of one. God it’s so slow and boring…I mean it’s touching, but boring…and who really wants to feel bored when touched? I’m getting off topic now…ahem…that sadly too leads us into the closing track “Epiphany” and it’s here I had a sudden realisation; this track is also sadly a bit dull, as well as feeling abrupt and almost unfinished. “Rituals” as a whole isn’t bad; it’s got its pleasant pop qualities, James is still a fine story-teller, plus it’s got more energy than its predecessor…and credit to them for experimenting with their entire approach to writing this time around. The only thing I will say is that know James can properly belt out the vocals when called upon with grit and conviction, he’s done so in the past, and this album again does lack some of that edge…other than that it’s a decent album. Now if you’ll excuse me I have my OWN rituals to sort out…these puppies aren’t going to sacrifice themselves…