on 5 October 2008
Perfect Symmetry moves Keane firmly out of the background and into the foreground.
A perfect blend of the few high tempo hits from `Under the Iron Sea' and the more relaxing ballad's of `Hopes and Fears'.
Almost a perfect album starting with the potential hits (Spiralling, Lovers are Losing and Better Than This.) followed by a string of complementary tracks; ending with a run of three very different, but wonderful tracks.
The title track `Perfect Symmetry' demonstrates perfectly how each element of the Band has evolved from the last album. Much has been made of the inclusion of the guitar, but its Tom's vocals that define the Music of Keane. If you are in doubt, listen to the demo tracks on the 2-disc edition.
The album has the overall feel of being `Very 80's' in tempo and while the music is still based around the piano, there is more integration between the drums, guitar and computerised samples.
The only thing preventing me giving this album 5 star is the slightly disjointed middle section.
`Again and Again' lifts the mood after the nice heart-felt ballad `You Don't See Me'. But the flow is again broken by the only disappointing track on the album `Playing Along' which, should have been replaced by the Bands other new slow tempo b-side/bonus track called 'My Shadow' or maybe a studio version of Early Winter.
But don't worry, the final three tracks provides the perfect ending, culminating with `Love Is the End'.
It must also be noted that the single version of `Spiralling' differs very slightly to the album version.
It's not Keane as we know them, but yet distinct and different enough to fill another gap in the market.
Anyone who enjoyed 'All the Lost Souls' by James Blunt should consider this,
as should any followers of The Killers, who are discontented by 'Day and Age'.
on 10 October 2008
Keane have once again proven their ability to make song writing seem easy. Their songs are crafted in such a manner that seems effortless. Tom's voice soars as ever and Richard's drumming is crisp and exciting. Tim has cemented his position for me as one of the best songwriters of our generation.
This album is packed full of melodies, and while it deals with serious issues it's in many ways a more fun album than 'Under the Iron Sea'. The songs are very much about war and social problems and our failing as a human race, whereas the last album was more about their troubled friendships.
'Hopes and Fears' had an intimate feel about it with the songs predominantly about love and friendship. For me it was an almost perfect album, with a continuity of sound that they have not matched on the following albums. This is not a criticism, as bands must progress musically. If they served up more of the same each time they would get stale, and probably get criticised for it.
But one of the things I loved about 'Hopes and Fears' is the fact that whilst being quite 'retro' in instrumentation, it was incredible unique. I could barely find any musical influences anywhere on the album (except the keyboard riff in 'Untitled 1' is uncannily like Abba's 'SOS'!) This originality of sound largely applies to 'Under the Iron Sea'.
But 'Perfect Symmetry' yields obvious influences, not least some strong 80's and Bowie influences. 'Lovers are Losing' has flavours of Bowie's 'Heroes' and 'Better than This' bears a striking resemblance to 'Ashes to Ashes'. And of course the '80's' feel of 'Spiralling' has been well documented. 'You haven't Told me Anything' is an unusual but still very melodic song, and continues with the '80's' feel.
These songs steer the album in a new direction, and yet we return to what I would say is a more traditional Keane sound with 'Perfect Symmetry'. This is an awesome epic of a song which I can see becoming a live classic. I agree with Tom Chaplin that it's one of the best songs they have ever written.
This typical Keane sound is reflected in songs such as 'Again and Again'.
So with this harking back to a traditional sound in many songs, as was the case with 'Under the Iron Sea' I would say it's not as complete an album as 'Hopes and Fears'. But the experimentation with new sounds and instruments that would not usually be associated with Keane (not least the funky guitar and sax on 'Pretend that Your Alone' and the excellent guitar rock out section in 'Playing Along') makes this a fresh and exciting album. 'Love is the End' has a lilting, almost jazzy feel to it, almost like a piano in a cocktail bar. It's quite similar in feel to 'Allemande', an early unreleased track.
'Black Burning Heart' has an incredible catchy melody that grabs you after only one listening. This applies pretty much to all the songs, and for this reason they get another 5 stars from me. The fact that they have overcome their problems as a band shines through in this album, as it certainly sounds like they are enjoying being a band again. Well done boys!
on 15 October 2008
I have both previous albums which I loved. I must admit with Perfect Symmetry that 2/3 songs immediately had me hooked (Better than this, Spiralling and Again & Again). However, given the new direction that the band took with their sound that I needed to play the album a few times over to appreciate the other songs.
It was well worth it! Honestly, give this album a bit of time and don't make a snap judgment. Keane are going from strength to strength and are not scared to exlpore new dimensions, this is keeping them fresh and on top of their game. Well worth buying.
Contrary to the ads on TV and the comments of some critics, this album is not a "stunning reinvention"...
I have always held a certain fondness for the music of Keane. They have been mocked for their looks, and for being upper class, and the singer's spell in rehab was scorned by many (the comment that he was in there for an addiction to port was a sick joke) but their music has almost always been solid and enjoyable, and when they play live they are surprisingly good as I found out earlier this year.
For some reason, Keane changed their sound with this album. Some of the tracks hark back to the 1980s, and one appears to sample David Bowie, and for me it doesn't really seem to work that well. Don't get me wrong - there are some great tracks here, such as "Spiralling", "The Lovers Are Losing", "Perfect Symmetry" and "Again and Again" really seem to work - but then others have jarring sounds and elements that are almost a step too far from a successful formula. As an album it's alright, but not the masterwork some have made it out to be.
on 6 February 2013
This is quite simply an amazing album from start to finish! I brought Perfect Symmetry on the day of release and for me is the best Keane album of them all I love it's 80s vibe and style throughout the record! They are quite simply Masters of There Craft and they are operating on a different level to other bands around. Keane are unique in everything they do every record sounds different and has it's own style plus tells it's own story all the way through.
Tom Chaplin is the best male singer of any band that I have ever heard. This album is full of dark brooding lyrics and great melodies than get stuck in your head and stay there.
My stand out tracks are THE LOVERS ARE LOSING- PERFECT SYMMETRY- BLACK BURNING HEART
Those of you who rated this album 3 2 or 1 star it's a shame you cannot appreciate this bands sheer talent and artistry! you are wrong!
Great tunes always stuck in my head! this is a great album! People are really shocked when I play them this album about how good it is and they are shocked that the artist is Keane!
on 6 October 2008
I have listened to this whole album in full and I have to say this is incredible lyrically as well as musically. All the songs are great and there are no fillers! The songs are quite different to Hopes and Fears but their adventurous sound still remains with Tom Chaplin's vocals soaring in many of the songs, most notably perfect symmetry, love is the end, black burning heart and playing along. They of course use more instruments producing weird and wonderful sounds! This album is truly unique, beautiful and hundred times better that anything out there at the moment. Although some of the songs are a bit dancey such as spiralling, I feel that the keane signature is always there in the songs - nearly all the tunes build up to something great. I think it is cool that keane have decided to take a new spin with their sound, it actually doesn't matter where they take it because keane will always sound so awesome in any direction they go. Bands that always stay in the same place worry me because they don't stretch musical borders so I admire this band for taking their sound to another level. This is a definate must buy! You won't regret it, perfect symmetry is the most amazing song ever!
on 20 October 2008
I am always the first to whinge when I hear bands continually pumping out the same stuff - sounding every bit like the one that went before...
I was quietly optimistic when I heard The Lovers are Losing on the radio and recognised a somewhat 'different'(though cant quite put my finger on it),sound.
The album is defnitely a different production on the two previous offerings and whilst there are some catchy tunes therein (Spiralling, Lovers are Losing, Better Than This, Again and Again) the remainder of the songs are not particularly memorable. ('You Havent Told Me Anything' is particuarly disappointing....)
Whilst this album is well worth a listen - I feel it is not quite the same calibre as 'Hopes and Fears' or its brilliant successor 'Under The Iron Sea'.
My hopes : an album different yet comparable to its predecssors
My fears : have Keane now lost 'it'...??? Time will tell, I guess
on 14 October 2008
I bought this CD, I loved the music but after one listen I returned it back to the store.
I simply can not accept nor endorse recordings that hurt my ears. This record is so terribly mastered it physically puts me in pain while listening to it. And it is a shame, as the music itself is superb.
WHY oh why do they master everything so loud these days? Who needs this? We all have the ability to turn the volume knob up and down in our stereo. Why does anybody think it has to be shoved down our throat loud, distorted and compressed beyond recognition, disabling any possible pleasure of the sonic spectrum this music definitely had in the first place? WhY?
Sorry Keane, I like your music a lot and I would support you when possible, but I can not support buying this record the way it's being presented. I can imagine it was not your decision to clip down all the frequency ranges here, but if that's the price of releasing your music through a major, then you had better off stayed independent.
on 18 August 2009
I think it's testament to the continuing power of tastemakers in the music press, even in an age of greatly democratised media, that Keane are still perceived as 'boring'. Yes their first album is a little samey, but journos, largely pandering to the dictates of fashion and hipster snobbery, have decided for us that they are irrevocably dull, and Tom and the boys building a body of work that demonstrates a much greater capacity for growth and reinvention than some of their more chic contemporaries, (The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and The Gossip spring to mind) will do nothing to change their judgement.
Perfect Symmetry is another step in their evolution. Where Under The Iron Sea dabbled in bleak, atmospheric soundscapes and rockier anthems, P.S. is unashamedly a pop record. When opener Spiralling blasts out of your speakers you'll swear you've accidently slipped in Now That's What I Call The 80's.
The Lovers Are Losing is hooky and immense, while Ashes to Ashes pastiche Better Than This and You Haven't Told Me Anything combine synths and quirky pop eccentricity to winning effect. You Don't See Me has the feel of one of those warm, wise, later period-Queen ballads and Perfect Symmetry is one of the strongest melodies the band has yet written.
Perfect Symmetry is also the first album I've bought since Randy Newman's Sail Away to engage in a theological argument with itself, and for that alone I'm tempted to give it the full five stars. With Perfect Symmetry dismissing the false hopes of Heaven and condemning the destructive influence of 'an eye for an eye' in an age of new holy wars; Pretend That You're Alone painting absence of faith as a convenient self-delusion to disregard any external moral imperative and obey your every animal impulse. It's utterly refreshing to have an album encouraging you to ask these questions, and actually think for yourself. Next up, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs release a double A-side addressing the relative merits of moral absolutism vs moral relativism in determining US foreign policy? No, thought not.
The second half of the album is less led by it's experimentation, more the 'Keane with knobs on' approach of Iron Sea. But the quality of songwriting remains so high, the band have proved all they need to prove.
on 5 February 2009
Dark, brooding lyrics, soaring vocals, cleverly-crafted melodies that work their way into your head & stay there - it can only mean a new Keane album, and this, their 3rd studio effort, proves, to me, at least, that they are masters of their craft, operating at a different level to their contemporaries.
Track by track analysis:
SPIRALLING - Powerful, if uncharacteristic, opener. Spoken section ("did you want to be a winner...etc?") somewhat reminiscent of ELP's "Still you turn me on" (from 'Brain Salad Surgery' album).
LOVERS ARE LOSING - More typically melodic, this would not have been out of place on the 1st album - a superior track.
BETTER THAN THIS - Jerky, quirky little song, with nice falsetto touches from Tom. Grows on you.
YOU HAVEN'T TOLD ME ANYTHING - Pleasant, without being particularly outstanding.
PERFECT SYMMETRY - Unmistakeably Keane, both lyrically & musically: "Everything is better when you hear that sound.." Quite. Excellent, but do I detect shades of Mike & Mechanics (or even Abba) in the "Spineless dreamers" chorus?
YOU DON'T SEE ME - Beautiful - must rank as one of their finest-ever pure melodies.
AGAIN & AGAIN - If you enjoyed HOPES & FEARS, you'll love this, a sort of reprise to "This is the last time."
PLAYING AROUND - Echoes of Paul Simon's 'Have a good time,' Tom sounding remarkably Sting-like.
PRETEND THAT YOU'RE ALONE - Expands on the primeval theme of Nik Kershaw's 'Monkey business,' only here we are urged to "tear off your clothes & be born again." Love (which takes a bit of a bashing throughout the album) is "just a way of looking out for ourselves when we don't want to be alone." Mmm...
BLACK BURNING HEART - To my mind, THE standout track. Musically, an expansion of the rhythm employed on "Your eyes open," lyrically, Tim at his dark, despairing best. Add a bass doing absolutely amazing things beneath the melody line & the band gradually building up to full throttle, & you have a sound that simply overwhelms the senses. I just love the line, "the sky will be my shroud, a monument of cloud..." Magical & compelling.
LOVE IS THE END - Beginning like a 3/4 version of 'Bedshaped,' this develops into a touching ode to love (thankfully, back on the menu).
After the triumph of UNDER THE IRON SEA, I feared for this album. However, while undeniably (& understandably) less impressive, it is a far better effort than I dared hope for, despite, as the analysis suggests, diverse influences staring to appear, which, I suppose, are part of the process of natural development.
To the reviewers who awarded the album 3, 2 & even 1 star (shame on you), I say, you are WRONG. Keane remain the only contemporary act who, through sheer talent & artistry, force you to sit up & take notice.