Last October, Haven were one of ten bands picked by NME as the future of “Guitar Britain”. Out of all
of them, though, they looked the ones who had most to prove. Neither as surreally psychedelic as
The Coral or Electric Soft Parade nor as furiously rowdy as Cooper Temple Clause or Lost Prophets,
they seemed destined to fall through the cracks – another classic rock band pedalling the notion of
Well, the surprise news is ‘Between The Senses’ triumphs for exactly that reason. The music here might be
gimmick-free, but it’s imbued with a dark sense of confidence. Last week’s feature in NME hinted at
the swirling magic that went into its creation (it’s produced by ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and
the sessions were fuelled by a cocktail of LSD and weird crystals), and some of that self-imposed weirdness
obviously rubbed off on them.
There’s an edge to their songwriting for the most part. The real triumphs (recent hit single
‘Say Something’, the elegant ‘Still Tonight’ and the simply fantastic ‘Out Of Reach’) echo the
sturdy, sweeping atmospherics of mid-’80s bands like U2 and even The Smiths themselves.
Haven add to that a life-affirming resonance of their own, and – in the process – end up with a surprisingly
successful juxtaposition. The jangly guitars and anthemic choruses bolster singer Gary Briggs’ tales
of bedsit romance and spurned love.
Indeed, Briggs is the key to whether you’re going to love or hate Haven. With the scruffy swagger
of a man already a star in his own head, his pleading, evocative vocals are his band’s most potent weapon.
Like Starsailor‘s James Walsh, his voice is beautiful and instantly recognizable, but – after a while –
a little wearing. Towards the end of the album, the soaring splendour and epic ambition starts
to get too much, and you do begin to yearn for something – anything – to break the mood and tempo.
That aside, though, you have to say Haven have made a positive start – ‘Between The Senses’ proving there’s
more to them than just identikit indie chancers. This is the sound of a band firmly and deservedly
establishing their place in a musical year that looks certain to become one of the most exciting
for ages. It’s nice to have them on board.