Top positive review
Definitely not the best thing they've ever written!
on 26 May 2012
The album itself is a 3 star but because of the DVD extras on the deluxe version it's deserving of 4 stars because they make it more enjoyable.
The debut Keane album was an amazing piano driven masterpiece, then came Under the iron sea which developed the sound and added distortion effects for a fuller and more powerful sound, in my opinion. The latter is my favourite album of theirs and it will be forever their best. After Under the iron sea Tom went through a difficult period being addicted to cocaine and as a result the band nearly broke up. With this album the band wanted a new sound and something to make them be happy about being a band and making music again. The change in sound was quite drastic for the most part and for me the band went downhill. The album overall, after I got used to it is pretty good but that Keane sound of old is basically well over.
The album begins with Spiralling; the 1st single - an 80's sounding song with synths and a driving rhythm. There is very little of the Keane we knew and love remaining! It's actually a pretty good song and a catchy one too. The lovers are losing Richard explains is about the two different types of people. It's got a pretty good chorus and is one of the best. Better than this is one of a couple of clever songs lyrically. It's got a bouncy beat with clapping and some crazy type vocals from Tom. You haven't told me anything is another clever tune with a good guitar riff. The theme is about the jaded state of mind where you think you know everything. Perfect symmetry is probably the best song on the album and is a taste of the Keane from the 1st 2 albums. The piano is strong through most of the song. It does have that Keane melancholy about it (which most of the songs are lacking) with a touch of sarcasm. You don't see me is my least favourite. It's pretty slow and lyrically isn't that good. Again and again is probably one of the 2 most upbeat songs on the album. The chorus is pretty catchy, as is the sound throughout and you can hear the piano throughout. Playing along is very slow and relaxed but it's pretty interesting lyrically. Pretend that you're alone is a smart tune with an interesting topic. The rhythm is good and once again you can hear the piano, reminding you that this is actually Keane! Black burning heart is one of my few favourites. It's got a cracking chorus, a good rhythm and quite differently, French at the bridge being read by a man. Love is the end is probably the slowest and most boring track on the record. The subject is clear and it's alright lyrically but certainly not one of the better tracks.
The deluxe version has a DVD with a 20 minute documentary on the making of the album (giving you a well-needed insight into the band's state of mind), a track by track video commentary (very useful and helped me to understand and have a far better appreciation for the songs), demo versions of all songs (just like with the Under the iron sea deluxe) and rehearsal footage of Spiralling which is just a performance of the song live with many different camera angles and Tom playing the electric guitar.
It's a big change in sound for the band and even though it's pretty good when you get used to it, it certainly doesn't have that immediate appeal and incredible sound that the first two albums have, in fact it's nowhere near as good. In my opinion I think it's a selfish album that the band created because they needed to experiment with their music and see what they could do now that they were a reformed band again. One important difference is Tom's voice. His voice sounds pretty flat and weak throughout the album and isn't close to the quality it was on the 1st 2 albums. Maybe the cocaine messed up his voice but it doesn't really make sense because on the Keane Live DVD, which was recorded more recently after the band reformed and Tom quit his addiction (it's older), his voice is really good (not as good as it used to be but still good) so maybe it's just something he did to fit in with the new sound by altering the tone. Instead of that choir boy sound its very shaky and low. Maybe it has something to do with the new songs being in a different tone or pitch and that's why he sounds better singing the older stuff. It's definitely something to bear in mind and clearly lowers the quality of the album.