Review : Keane - Strangeland
BBCIt doesn’t get much more play-safe and back-to-basics than this. 2008’s Perfect Symmetry saw mega-selling East Sussex band Keane surprise sceptics with a galvanised twist of electro-pop, retro-tooled to emulate early Simple Minds. Arguably they did this with more guile and pizzazz than The Horrors, but the fanbase must have flinched as Strangeland, belying its title, is an unabashed scurry back to the comfort zone.
Sweet, unthreatening melodies abound, then, sung with porcelain-choirboy competence by Tom Chaplin and written and arranged by Tim Rice-Oxley, whose keyboards dominate. While he finds enough effects to vary the tone, there returns a sense that for all their tugs at emotion, Keane lack blood, guts and muscle. There’s a nod at Radiohead on Black Rain, and On the Road is proud of its peppiness; but most songs blur into a faint facsimile of Genesis’ 1978 hit Follow You, Follow Me or slide cosily into the wistful, mid-tempo ballad shapes patented by U2 in the 90s....full text
GuardianKeane threw a curveball with the surprisingly effective 80s synth-pop stylings of 2008's Perfect Symmetry. Their fourth album proper, however, finds them back on more familiar territory, once again plotting a course through the sort of classy, yet anthemic, piano-led material that first brought them to prominence. The epic "The Starting Line" has something of Abba's "One of Us" to its verse and is surely destined for soundtrack heartstring-tugging, slow-motion sports footage montages. "Black Rain", meanwhile, finds frontman Tom Chaplin sounding eerily like Thom Yorke. There isn't anything as irresistible as "Everybody's Changing" or "Spiralling" this time around, but this is still another smoothly accomplished set....full text
The IndependentKeane's debut album had its charms, if you convinced yourself it was closer in spirit to A-ha than Coldplay.
Its follow-up was gloomy, but the Battle quartet hit unexpected heights with the sugar-rush synthpop of Perfect Symmetry. Now it's back to square one, only it doesn't feel as charming. Strangeland is drenched in reverb-heavy piano, Chicken Soup for the Soul maxims and moderately maudlin musings about not being young any more. ...full text
Edmonton JournalPreparing for Keane’s fourth album, pianist and principal writer Tim Rice-Oxley admitted he had allowed himself to get as excited by textures as by songwriting with the group’s previous release, Perfect Symmetry.
“In the wake of that, I spent a lot of time thinking about what it is that makes a song magic,” Rice-Oxley said in an interview promoting Strangeland, available Tuesday.
Somewhere in the soaring melodies of this wonderful disc, he has found magic of his own.
Not surprisingly for Keane, the arrangements here are pretty much all breezy piano and gently percolating synths. If there’s a guitar lurking in there somewhere, it’s always well hidden. The rhythm section — drummer Richard Hughes and bassist Jesse Quin — hangs back, supportive and sturdy....full text
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