Monday, 27 October 2008

Review - Keane - Perfect Symmetry

Keane. The dirtiest word in modern day indie-rock. Probably. They came out of the blue in 2005 to blow all the little middle of the road Radio 2 listeners away with their piano led haunted chiming and the soaring epic vocal of, finally, a indie singer that can truly sing. It was a revelation. They never quite got the indie crowd behind them, bypassing that and going straight to Snow Patrol stardom. They do the Coldplay thing much better than Coldplay do it.

So their debut album sold millions and I was one of the mugs who bought it – indeed, curiosity mostly, but also because I was in Barcelona and it was cheap. If I can remember where I bought it surely it made some impression. It was a solid record – pant wettingly epic at points, but some of the tracks are pretty much great – Untitled and Sunshine are two of the greatest songs the band have written, hands down. The follow-up was again picked on by my self, this time on holiday in Malta, where it’s swaying epic choruses’ soundtrack going to get a paper in the morning and bottles of water. It was a good album.

But earlier this year we heard rumblings of trouble in camp Keane. A solo record? Cocaine addiction? Trumpets? It was all pointing to a Be Here Now disaster… and incredibly they managed to avoid it.

How? Well, Perfect Symmetry is an album of interesting direction changes but no distance gained. For example, Spiralling, the lead single, is a rather outlandish use of synth, spoken vocals and slap retro-bass, but keeps the structure of a Keane track. Second single, The Lovers Are Losing, is plain sailing for Keane. The use of Guitarish sounding synth or synth sounding guitar on You Haven't Told Me Anything the is a good idea, as hemming into just using instruments set out in the beginning is a sure fire way of failing the next-album test, but again it’s strides into the right point on the experimentation compass but stays rooted firmly on the spot.

The glances in new directions are good. Indeed, another album of samey bland ballads would kill the chances of the band outstaying their welcome, but it won’t appease the hoards of indie shirkers who see Keane as exactly what is wrong with music. The album is good, probably very good, but has a few troubles.

Firstly, the ballads that are present are crap. The title track is simply appalling – Keane doing a bad cover of Keane. The choral flourishes towards the end compound the lack of ideas on this track and to bestow it with the album title gives it clout it should never have, as well as lasting well beyond its allotted time frame.

The album is darker in places but mostly brighter than the “troubled” Under the Iron Sea, and the new look Keane and new sounding Keane are much much much more interesting than their earlier incarnations, but are still the same old band, with the same old problems. The only advantage that they now have is that it will be hard to predict where to go now – and that might be enough to keep everyone interested.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good post, nice to know you, i'm from indonesia..