The current clutch of new bands out of the UK is revealing some interesting talent. Alongside Electric Soft Parade, Cooper Temple Clause, Elbow and Starsailor comes Haven. Another moody bunch of guitar wielding, moody ballad warbling, introspective melody driven rockers who might be missed among the melee of other similar sounding shoe-gazers. Whilst it is unfair to rate one against another, this group do warrant some attention. It seems that is a fair consensus too - as the band has been noticed by (and this album produced by) Johnny Marr of Smiths and Electronic fame.
So will this foursome be the next outfit to knock Morrissey off his hallowed perch of gloom? Unlikely, but at least they are giving the music press a run for their money with this album, and providing they have more than 12 songs to their bow, have shown a lot of potential for the future.
The band comprises of Nat Wason (guitars, keyboards), Iwan Gronow (bass, vocals), Jack Mitchell (drums, vocals) and the towering main vocals of Gary Briggs - who also turns his hand to a spot of guitar strumming too. They come from deepest, darkest Cornwall in South West England, and the story goes that Nat met Gary in a record store in Penzance, and from conversations about the tunes in the shop, realised that Nat was the guitarist in a band without a voice, whilst Gary was the voice that Nat had heard a lot about. The natural progression was that they started writing together, which they did. Later on they found bassist Iwan Gronow and drummer Tom Lewis (later to be replaced by Jack Mitchell) and formed Haven. They played local gigs in the late 90's and were spotted by former Smiths manager Joe Moss.
In February 1999 they moved to Manchester, stayed in Moss's house and started jamming with Johnny Marr. There, they felt the strength in musical heritage, but also the presence of competition. "In Cornwall it’s dead hard, 'cos you’ve got nothing to test yourself against," is a quote from Gary. "Coming up to Manchester is like sitting with the bright kids." They toured with the Badly Drawn Boy, and by this time the music press was getting distinctly interested. 'Til The End' was released as their first EP, then the simply excellent and very anthemic 'Say Something'.
So are they another Travis or Coldplay? Not really, but with the burgeoning wealth of nouveau rock doing the rounds at the moment, this is a band with a little more to offer. The melodies are strong, and although on a first listen this may seem a disappointing collection, it is an album that grows in appeal with each play. Some of the tracks might be a little same-ey, and they might be familiar in style to what has gone before (and undoubtedly to come also), but they are still enduring and have a passion to them. What is disconcerting though is the voice of Gary Briggs. Beautiful and haunting though it is, there is an uncanny similarity in tone to Marti Pellow from Wet Wet Wet. But cast that thought out of your mind (if possible), lest it spoil your listening pleasure from an album that although may not be perfect, still has a lot of fine tunes to offer.
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