Lets be honest 'Perfect Symmetry' was disappointing. On the edge of world domination & following on from two increasingly excellent albums Keane somehow managed to drop the ball. So what to do? Release a repackaged version of former glories! How many times do we see a group counter a duff album with a lame re-release? Well I'm pleased to say this is actually way more than just another cash-in.
The 1st Disc has the album & some live tracks. To be honest it's for those completists who have to have every possible track. The live tracks are okay but if you have any of the 2006 'recorded & released at the venue' albums from the 'Iron sea' tour then this adds nothing new. If you don't already have 'Hopes & Fears' then CD1 is worth your while.
So for the fans it's all down to CD 2 & you will not be disappointed. 'Snowed under' is classic Keane & is strong enough to have held a place in the original album had it been chosen. As anyone unlucky enough to have bought the 10' single will know the DJ shadow remix is possibly the worst track Keane have ever released. A completely unsympathetic drum'n'Bass botch. 'Into the light' is something of a surprise with a very synth led sound that really sounds like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the dark. 'Call me what you like' is like an early 'Atlantic' and is a great reminder of what Tom's voice can do when he lets rip without restraint. 'Closer now' is a catchy acoustic led track with echoes of Snow Patrol. 'Rubbernecking' starts off as a bit of a dirge but begins to grow as it unwinds and is, again, a far more synth led sound than usual, (yes I know they are synth based but it's usually disguised as piano),. 'Wolf at the door' is a Foo fighters style slow, angst filled, track that again could have easily held its own on the main album. CD 2 is then completed with various Fierce Panda demo's, of which 'She has no time' stands out as being even better than the album version due to its stripped back sound and some powerful vocal work. The album ends with some live tracks that, like the first disc, add little for me but it's nice to see some effort made in filling the disc with something new.
As a whole this is a very worthwhile release. Far more than just a thrown together afterthought this has the main album supported by a second disc of very strong previously unreleased & demo versions. For the fans there are some excellent tracks that didn't make it to the original release, some strong demo versions and a good collection of unheard live versions.
This release is a great reminder of the band at their best and is surely an indicator that the band still have a lot to give. If you're a fan then this is well worth your time & if just a casual listener then this is an opportunity to own a strong album supported by a very good collection of extra tracks. A really good release that is warmly welcomed.