on 12 December 2012
Some years back, I bought the first Keane album & loved it. However, in comparison, the second album was a disappointment, although it has grown on me more. Because of this, I haven't bought anymore albums since...that was until I was enticed to do so by the singles off of 'Strangeland'. This is a great album &, although particular tracks stand out, it doesn't have a weak song on it. Well done, Keane, for getting back on track.
on 31 October 2012
Visted Bexhill on Sea recently and had a coffee in the Sovereign Light Cafe. There were pictures of the band everywhere inside and the person who served me said excitedly that it was the Keane cafe.The lead singer comes from Battle just a few miles away and presumably spent his childhood around the coast here. I watched the video of the single on my phone while there (and saw the lady who had just served me coffee right at the end) thinking what a great song and what a great album too. I also enjoyed matching up the album cover artwork and photos to the actual places along the seafront while I hummed the tunes. (my young daughter spotted which shelter amongst the many along the front was the one featured on the inside cover of the deluxe edition.
If you are a Keane fan and in particular like Strangeland then I suggest you too visit Bexhill on Sea and see what in part inspired this fabulous album.I have the deluxe version which has 16 tracks and there is not a skipper amongst them. How many albums with even 10 on can you say that about?. One of the best albums I`ve heard in years.
on 7 May 2012
I have been a Keane fan ever since 2003, when the first songs from "Hopes and Fears" dominated my discman playlist in my late teens. I now listen to early songs like "Everybody's Changing" and "Somewhere only we know", and feel the nostalgic pull back to my naive era.
Nostalgia is at the heart of Keane's 4th studio album, "Strangeland", and it is certainly a return to the classic Keane ambiance. They've swapped the electronic experimentation of "Perfect Symmetry" with melodic piano pop-rock, emotional ballards, and soaring, driving anthems. They do a really good job of it as well. Certainly for an old-timer fan like myself, a return to form is something I never expected, but something I am very grateful for.
"You are Young" and "Silenced By the Night" begin the journey on the road, and are both driving, energetic anthems which will lift your mood. "Strangeland" is quite a paradoxical title for a record which is largely happy and upbeat.
"Disconnected" is an album highlight, with Tom Chaplin showing his vocal versatility by singing in quite a low register at first. Bizarrely the melody is redolent in my ears of "I'm an Urban Spaceman" by the Bonzo Dog Band, but that is great, because it means the tune is both dark and playful at the same time.
3 tracks in, and they all pass the hummable test. You can hum the melody to yourself on a whim. That is Tim Rice-Oxley's composing triumph. He is the master of melody in today's musical world.
"The Starting Line" and "Watch How You Go" are two wonderful ballads, which are destined for sing-along-crowds at T in the Park or V festival later this year. The band have admitted to keeping the production minimal on tracks like these, which I think is a bonus, as they remind you of tracks from "Under the Iron Sea", with the slightly purer, simpler sound. The piano is back, and this signature instrument sweetly compliments Tom's voice.
"Black Rain" takes Keane into new territory, with its meandering chords, and dreamy harmonies. It is the Untitled #1 2012, but part of me feels it perhaps could have kept going, or had a bit more of a driving baseline, especially with Jesse Quin now making a four-piece complete.
My favourite song is definitely the catchy "Sovereign Light Café", which will surely make a Bexhill landmark famous for generations now. Never mind if you haven't been to Bexhill-on-Sea. The lyrics about going down "to the rides on East Parade" and "to the bandstand on the pier" are universal enough to appeal to anyone who can remember sunny childhood holidays to the seaside, and all the feelings of the past memories like that evoke. Yet it is a personal enough song that it shows Keane really care about their journey, and this allows them to put a lot of heart into their music.
"Sea Fog" continues the habit Keane have of creating a corker of a ballad for a finale. Just like "Bedshaped" and "Love is the End", this song melts simplicity with bittersweet emotion, and the payoff makes for a satisfying and varied album.
If there is anything lacking from this album, it's that the undulating melancholy present on the first two albums is somewhat lacking. With the exception of tracks like "Sea Fog", the rest of the album is certainly melodious, energetic and memorable, but there are far too many major chords, and few too minor ones. This sounds like a trivial complaint. Keane are certainly in a more secure and happier time in their lives: they are all now married, so I guess it's understandable their music will be more uplifting. But 9 years ago, there was an undercurrent to their songs, that slight feeling of unease which gave their music more depth I feel. But this is still by far the best album since "Under the Iron Sea", so I can definitely recommend it to old and new Keane fans everywhere!
on 21 July 2012
This is the album of the year without a shadow of a doubt. A return to the best of keane - and ranks just a high (in my own humble opinion) as "Hopes and Fears" (maybe even a little higher...)
Standout track for me are "Disconnected" and "Watch how you go", but there (as has already been pointed out) absolutely no fillers on this Cd. Terrific lyrics, thoughtful ballads and, above all, sounds that grab you from the word go - that real Keane sound.
A well thought out track selection, with the mood lifted and mellowed at just the right points, the sign of quality. If you like Keane Buy it - you won't be disappointed. If you've bought this and have been disappointed then I have no idea what it would take to please you in an album, because this one, to me anyway) clearly has class oozing from every well-written track.
I have to admit being very disappointed when 'Perfect symmetry' was released.
Having soared with 'The iron sea', world tours, live DVD & all sorts of singles & promo's selling like hotcakes over on the bay, it looked as if the lads were about to launch off into mega stardom.
Ah well, what do I know eh?
This album see's an unexpected & very welcome return to form. Don't get me wrong, this is not a re-hash of the sounds of their first two albums. Except for Tom's instantly recognisable voice this would not be easily seen as a Keane album.
The melodies are at times quite beautiful, 'The starting line', is for me anyway, as lovely as anything that's gone before. It's a real joy to listen to the music as well as the singing. Strong keyboard work alongside tight rhythm underpins some very strong lyric's.
There is a constant sadness underpinning most tracks & it lends a weight that was missing to most of the previous album.
Tom remains unique & his voice is as powerful as ever.
With smart song writing skills to the fore & top notch musicianship, ( a new band member, Jessie, has clearly done no harm), alongside the signature Keane sound this is a strong entry both into the their releases & the years albums.
Great stuff & easily recommended to Keane fans & newbies alike.
on 29 December 2012
Arrived quite a bit later than it was supposed to, but still an amazing album regardless. I would highly recommend.
on 21 February 2015
When Keane first hit the scene nearly a decade ago, they were famed for being the band without guitars. I was initially sceptical, with the rock fan in me not believing that anything good to happen without guitars. But sheer musicianship won me over and, given that their debut "Hopes & Fears" was the second best selling album in the UK in 2004 and won the Best Album Brit Award in 2005, I clearly wasn't alone.
Since then, Keane have followed a more traditional path through the music industry. They've had a member in rehab, they've changed a band member and they've had an album which was a departure from their usual sound. They've managed to retain their fan base throughout everything, with "Strangeland" being their fifth consecutive Number 1 album in the UK charts, something even bands like Oasis never achieved.
"Strangeland" isn't a particularly bad album by any means, but it is a little bland and, following on from the departure from Keane's norm that was "Perfect Symmetry", it feels like something of a backward step. If your favourite Keane album was "Hopes & Fears", then you're more likely to get something out of this than if you enjoyed "Perfect Symmetry" much more. Of course, if you never liked Keane at all or, for that matter, 1980s era U2, this album will do little to change your mind.
For existing fans of the band, it's consistent enough with their earlier works to buy a copy. But if you're new to the band, a better introduction would be a copy of "Hopes & Fears".
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
on 16 December 2013
The majority of reviews here rate this album high and I don't criticise them, after all, reviews are very personal, but it makes me wonder how future Keane releases will be based on this success.
This albums tries to go back to roots in terms of sound, but fails miserably in terms of creativity. Long gone are the creative sound behind "Hopes & Fears" or the not less genious "Under the Iron Sea". I remember when I first heard Keane of the radio, not even knowing who they were & "Somewhere only we know" was playing.
The tune kept running for days and I had to know who they were. When I bought "Hopes & Fears", I stumbled with a perfect album, very catchy tunes and yet powerful lyrics & feeling behind it. The second album was almost as good as the first one, with the masterpiece "Atlantic" establishing Keane as a powerful creative force.
Never again I heard that kind of genious and when i ordered the third album, I feared Kean lost it.
With the forgetable Night Train & Symmetry behind, I was curious about this album.
The piano is back & so are the soft tunes from the first albums, but this "joy joy feeling" album fails to deliver musicaly. Nothing wrong with a "happy feeling" album, if you have a strong creative force behind it, this one doesn't.
Maybe I'm a bit too harsh on giving this release only 2 stars, but for a band to deliver 2 perfect albums only to realise they have been lost all this years & try such a poor comeback... is sad to say the least.
They changed sound, pace & direction... why? Bands can experiment, but leaving such creative music behind can only mean 2 things, either they lost it or they didn't like their music in the first place (which I find hard to believe).
Either way its sad to see a band doing such a poor effort with songs that remind me of a soap commercial, almost through the whole album.
Some interesting tracks are here, like "Silenced by the night", "Disconnected" or "Black Rain" but the album is unbalanced to say the least, with songs that fade from memory the moment i hear them.
They seem to be enjoying themselves, general reviews are good & I'm afraid this "return" will see Keane betting more on this easy sound, almost a sound to the "masses".
Long gone are the introspective, intimacy of "Atlantis", the melancolic sound of "She has no time", the simple genious of "Hamburg Song".... long gone is the genious of Keane, that sold out to easier tunes, to hum along a washed up version of what they were.
I hope I'm wrong and this is just a step towards what they were, since its impossible not to compare this work to past ones, they were so long far away from their roots that I'm afraid they got lost on the way back.
on 6 June 2012
The fourth (or fifth if you count Night Train) Keane album arrives to the usual dismissive response of most reviewers. Perfect Symmetry was criticised for imitating 80s synth stuff but now reviews claim that was a bold step forward and this is a big leap back. Seems Keane just can't win sometimes. So what's the truth? On first listen it is easy to see where the 'safe middle of the road' claims come from with few tracks really standing up in the way they did on Hope and Fears and Under the Iron Sea, but it rewards repeated listening and is definitely a more subtle, thoughtful and considered record than Perfect Symmetry. A lot of the annoying fluff of that album has gone, and a lot of what was lost on that album is back. If only they'd played it slightly less safe with the track selection this could have been a five star review, but as it is the commercial leanings of the band mean that three of the best tracks will only be available to people who pay out the extra money for the deluxe edition, and those who stick with the twelve track CD will get at least three songs that sound like fillers.
Going through it track by track - You are Young has an opening that sounds like an engineer missed the first second of the track, but builds into an optimistic uplifting against the odds type anthem. Silenced by the night passed me by entirely when I heard it as a standalone track, but now also has that outsider feel to the lyrics that categorised tracks on the first two albums coupled again with an uplifting defiant chorus. Third track in is Disconnected, which is the first track that still feels like the sound of a band running out of ideas and re-treading their past, it's pleasant, but that's no justification for putting it on the album. Watch How You Go is the complete opposite, the mournful slow ballad that is Keane at their best, not trying to write three minute pop songs for radio. Sovereign Light Cafe is another grower, appears to have little on first listen, but the music and lyrics work together to create something that makes you long for a past that isn't yours. On the Road changes the tempo and is worth having on the album if only for that. It's a track that depends on your mood, sometimes it sounds like a great call to arms up-tempo stadium track, other times it's lightweight fluff.
On to the second half of the main album proper and The Starting Line is this album's Bedshaped, with dramatic chorus to overcome the sense of loss created by the verse - again it's classic dramatic music that sounds like Keane writing what they want and not thinking about chart placings. Black Rain sounds like an attempt at Radiohead, and is a bleaker track than anything before it. Takes some time to register as a result, but after a few listens it gets there. Neon River is the second track that shouldn't be on the album. Keane by numbers with no lyrical or musical sentiment they haven't delivered better elsewhere. A filler track if ever there was one. Day Will Come sounds like it would have fitted well on Perfect Symmetry, as a piece of sugary pop with more than a passing nod to the '80s, as such it's another track that for me is too lightweight and not what I want from Keane. In Your Own Time is better but could have benefitted from a more adventurous backing track - had it been on the first album it would have had an uplifting feel throughout, here it feels as if that's been sacrificied for a drive time audience on Capital FM. It falls to Sea Fog as the last track of the main album to really rescue proceedings and remind you of what Keane do best, a simple piano backing and plaintive lyrics delivered with Tom Chaplin's best little boy lost vocals. Just as Love is the End was probably the best moment of Perfect Symmetry, so Sea Fog is with this album, joining Watch How You Go and The Starting Line as the album's standout tracks.
And for most people that's where the album will end, unless you've bought the deluxe edition. Deluxe editions are nearly always a not so cheap excuse to get more money off you with tracks that aren't good enough to make the main album, but not here. Strangeland immediately joins the three tracks mentioned above as a melancholy triumph. Run With Me doesn't build on it, and won't be missed by anyone who sticks with the 12 track album, but The Boys will be a loss. It's a different sound for Keane, more strident but again tinged with nostalgia. This should have been on the album proper instead, it's the mood changer that does more than simply alter the tone for a few minutes. It's Not True should also have made it on to the album, even if it does sound like it's natural position is album closer, and Sea Fog has already provided that as well as anything could.
Take Disconnected, Neon River and Days Will Come out of the main album and add Stangeland, The Boys and It's Not True in their places and you have an excellent album. For once this is definitely something where the extra money for the deluxe edition is worthwhile.
I've always liked Keane, ever since I saw what must have been their TV debut on "Later..." years ago when they performed "This Is The Last Time" and blew me away. All of their albums bring back memories for me, and when I finally got the chance to see them play live on the "Perfect Symmetry" tour they really surprised me - for some reason I didn't expect them to be so good live, to sound so forceful, and for Tom's voice to be so impressive.
There are moments on "Strangeland" that really capture that old brilliance for me. "Sovereign Light Cafe" is an immediate hit, the kind of song you hear on the radio early in the morning and it is still playing in your head when you go to bed. "You Are Young" is surely separated at birth from "Everybody's Changing". "On The Road" is one of their more boisterous tracks, like a few from "Perfect Symmetry". "Day Will Come" is an anthemic sibling of "Can't Stop now". Throughout the album their trademark - from the earlier albums at least - piano is prominent, and the band's expansion to a four-piece complete with a guitarist doesn't actually change the sound at all, so you won't find any guitar solos to spoil the mood. All in all the album can be described in one simple phrase: It's a Keane album. If you liked the sound of "Hopes and Fears" and "Under The Iron Sea" you'll like this, possibly just as much. It's a return to their familiar sound.
But for me that's the problem. "Perfect Symmetry" and the "Night Train" EP still sounded like Keane but they were pushing things into new (for them) directions, exploring new sounds and textures, and I actually liked that. The band were clearly evolving, maturing, and as good as "Strangeland" is it seems like they've tested the waters and decided they preferred the old sound more. It does feel a little like a regression.
I do like the album, and I've played it a lot since I got it, but for me it sounds a little like Keane-by-numbers. It's just a little bit disappointing to my ears, albeit an enjoyable one.