et ANOTHER band plod their way off the whimsical-acoustic-indie-rock production line, touting their mid-paced ballads and heartfelt lyrics like lachrymose drug dealers, only rather than haunting school playgrounds they're hanging out at Ford dealerships and pouncing on unwitting Mondeo-purchasers.
Yes, Haven sound a little like Travis, Coldplay, Embrace, Starsailor, the Buckleys, etcetera etcetera, ad infinitum. Yes, they're accomplished, yes he can sing in an ‘emotional’ falsetto, yes this record is produced by Johnny Marr, yes they keep talking about The Stone Roses... But by God they are stultifyingly BORING and pedestrian. And sickeningly lacking in charm, just like most bands of their ilk. If they had one percent of the genius and charm and magic that pulsed through The Stone Roses, or the humour and character of The Smiths, then Haven would be OK. But they don't. They have almost no personality at all. One look at the cover, with it’s Roses-esque paint splashes superimposed on top of a photo of the band, all moody and dressed in black, glaring wistfully from beneath greasy fringes, confirms that they are derivative wankers of the highest order.
Introspection is the name of the game here. Lots of lyrics about trying harder and fixing things and loving people and being a bit upset, and what it all boils down to is a sad man saying "please love me, I'm very nice," over and over again in a very boring and unimaginative way. When Morrissey sang ‘I Know It's Over’ it sounded like the most important thing in the world. When Haven sing something that they think equates with that it just sounds like they need to cheer up a bit, and ultimately that's the most depressing thing about this record.
If you like jangly guitars and weak hooks, slightly sad lyrics and predictable melodies, sensitive men with bad hair in black coats, then you'll probably love this. And you probably need shooting. How many records that sound the same are going to be thrust at us by record companies eager to exploit the public’s capacity for consuming sentimental toss? How many bands of sensitive white boys with guitars and mild angst can there be? How many more songs with titles like "Let It Live" and "Beautiful Thing" and "Till The End" can it be possible to write? Is there some Orwellian machine in a factory in Stockport churning out these identikit post-Verve dirges about not being very good with girls? This isn’t angst, this isn’t pain, this is the self-indulgent moping of boys who never got kissed at the school disco and who aren’t going to let us fucking forget about it.
The bass guitar is quite pleasantly melodic. And that is the only good thing I can say. This record is dull, predictable aural soup, and dullness in music should be punishable by death.