Second album time already for Haven, who feel like they’ve been around for only five minutes but have in fact clocked up almost three years in our consciousness. Starting your record with a song called Change Direction would seem to indicate a new approach.
It doesn’t. All For A Reason takes the successes of the first album – a good melody, the instantly recognisable voice of Gary Briggs and a “wall of sound” guitar accompaniment – and subtly develops these components. So subtly in fact that you won’t notice the difference on songs like the recent single Wouldn’t Change A Thing, a cross between Say Something and Til The End.
Change Direction itself serves as an intro to Have No Fear, where Briggs rather unimaginatively sings “I wait for you, I always do, Can’t fight the feeling, that I am feeling”. It’s fair to say that the lyrical invention is patchy on this record, another taste being “you’ve got to see things can only get better cos together we’re better” – funnily enough on the song Together’s Better.
Johnny Marr produces six of the tracks, and these are the ones most closely associated with the first album stylistically. Where the invention seems to go up a notch is in the four Dave Eringa productions. Title track All For A Reason is more reflective from the outset, an effective low range unison vocal from the band over a loping bass and plodding drum, building impressively to a genuinely memorable chorus. WhatLove Is goes faster, changing the musical direction at exactly the right point, with Eringa’s production tending to underplay Briggs’ more tremulous moments and bringing out more bass. Don’t Say A Word is reflective and moody, cueing the strings in a Feeder kind of way, and the closing Getaway fares well, despite the disappointing “I’m falling” vocal cliché.
Briggs’s voice is one of the main reasons behind Haven’s success, but needs to be treated with care. The trembling start on slow builder TheFirst Time is overdone, while Something Moved Me has a conflict between its easy-going accompaniment and its ever fraught vocalist.
Not a disastrous second album by any means then, but not a significant step forward either, and All For A Reason apart, lacking the sort of melodic inspiration this band showed on their debut. Undoubtedly it’s a grower though, and the signs are that if the band cast their net producer-wise they could yet come up with the goods.