Keane unquestionably lot their way with third album ‘Perfect Symmetry’; an album which tried too hard to emphasise their pop credentials. In many ways, the EP which succeeded it, ‘Night Train’ – with its hip-hop guest vocalists – pushed them as far in to the mainstream as they could go but at least featured better songwriting. For fans of their early albums, though, ‘Strangeland’ will feel like a comfort blanket.
The back to basics approach is apparent from the start. Keane may have gained a new member but the first few songs are a definite throwback to the original Keane of 2006. ‘Silenced By The Night’ and ‘Disconnected’ are the best of these largely thanks to Tom Chaplin’s stirring vocal and Tim Rice-Oxley’s melodies which remind us of all that was so endearing about their debut album.
At these times the lack of development is excusable but surely there was no need to make this album stretch to over an hour in length. Song by song goes by, with each largely indistinguishable from the last. ‘Black Rain’ and ‘Neon River’ provide a couple of exceptions and even though their ambient leanings would hardly be classed as experimental, they at least evidence a willingness to deviate from formula. That’s certainly more that can be said for the plodding ballads which characterise the album’s end.
Granted, ‘Strangeland’ is a return to form after their last msiguided efforts but the album is so tentative and safe that it’s hard to feel involved once the best songs have passed by. This is a case of a band sounding a bit too comfortable.
Keane Official Site