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4.6 out of 5 stars
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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!
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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.
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on 6 August 2012
I recently bought the deluxe version with 16 tracks and it was well worth the effort of buying it. On the other hand this offering while containing excellent tracks it doesn't even feature the title track which is really strange indeed, where is the music industry heading with this new idea of bringing two different versions don't they make enough money out of genuine fans already without exploiting them even more like this. I recommend you all buy the deluxe version and shop around for the best price like I did from the USA not UK. Isn't that ridiculous.
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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.
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on 3 June 2012
I've hardly stopped playing this since it arrived. I love every track and firmly believe it to be the best Keane album yet. I thought nothing could top Hopes and Fears. I like Under the Iron Sea, Perfect Symmetry, Night Train; but Strangeland is the best. It really shows that Keane took their time over this to get it just right. After seeing them live in Manchester on 30th May I'm listening to it all the more. Still trying to decide which is my favourite track and don't think I can. I saw the video for Disconnected on Virgin On Demand and it's also worth finding if you can.
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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.
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on 7 May 2012
I've just downloaded Strangeland (from the wonderful Amazon site!) having waited with much anticipation since it's launch date was announced. I'm old now, with my free bus-pass in the post ready to reach me by the summer and yet I feel exactly as I did almost 50 years ago when I waited for the next Beatles release. Okay, sad I know and I should get out more, but what a terrific album this is from a great 'pop' band. Listening to it just makes you feel better: it's fresh, a development via the much under-rated Perfect Symmetry to a slightly more sophisticated, mature, self-assured sound. As ever there are the almost'corny' (but I love them) anthems - damn I can't keep my foot still and the smile off my face - and a few of those gentle, reflective ballads. This isn't deep, ground breaking stuff, but it is beautifully constructed, expertly-produced, brilliantly performed 'pop' and I love it. I love the nostalgic feeling it gives me - not a nostalgia for their first album but for something much older than that: a fresh sound as a backdrop to this ol' codger's summer of 2012. (I've got it on my mp3 player ready for the beach and on the car's music store - I'm going to play it till I know it by heart. Blimey I AM sad.) Keane appreciators must campaign to ensure they don't become the Dire Staits of their day - the band everyone loved when they appeared and then the band to hate just because they just kept turning out great LPs - oops albums, oops music files!
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I have already bought a second copy of this brilliant album as a gift. I've enjoyed past Keane albums but they've not had the immediate appeal for me that Strangeland has generated - I play it all the time. Perhaps it's because I live by the Sussex coast and the lyrics and tunes are so evocative of traditional British seaside towns and their heyday. Or, based on what some other reviewers have said, it may be because I am inclined to the conservative (with a small c!).

Strangeland strikes me as, addictive, wholesome and tuneful with great vocals and piano playing that reminds me of Bruce Hornsby. I love playing it in the car because it is really easy to listen to, albeit, with a different pace to some of the tracks. There are no warnings about explicit lyrics, novel effects or banshee wails - you are taken on a colourful and evocative journey through safe terrain - perhaps this is attributable to the band's Sussex heritage. We all have different tastes, but I really think this album will have significant mainstream appeal and is probably a popular MoR CD of tomorrow, but, then that's nothing to be ashamed of.

One curious technicality is that if you put this disc into your computer don't expect the track titles to come up. It is like an early CD where all you'll get is "Track 1", "Track 2" etc. - so a trip to one of those CD databases will be a must, however, that's a small technical flaw in a sonically very well crafted album.

There's no accounting for taste, but, I think many, many people will enjoy this disc, and, if you liked "Under an Iron Sea" from Keane that probability increases significantly. Recommended.
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on 10 May 2012
The release of a new album from Keane always makes me beyond excited and this one has not disappointed. Not only can I not stop playing it but the more I do, the more the tracks just grow and grow - in themselves and in my appreciation of them. Initially I loved Silenced by the Night and Disconnected before the album was released, then I got right into On the Road, The Starting Line and Strangeland. But every time I play it, I realise (as always with the Battle boys), that each track is great, in its own way. Yet again, I am bouncing round the lounge, clapping, waving my arms, jumping up and down (or lying down when the pace slows), singing at the top of my voice pretending to be Mr Chaplin in concert!

Keane may have their critics - the sort of people who think music's only music if its abject misery & find Radiohead a bit too lively - but personally I love their intelligent lyrics caught inside melodies that get exactly where music should - in your heart and veins, tugging out all your emotion. In some ways this is a return to their roots, but with a positive, upbeat feel.

If you're not a Keane fan, you're unlikely to be converted & wouldn't be reading this anyway. If, like me, you've always been a Keane fan & adored all their albums for different reasons, you will love this. If you're somewhere in-between, give it a go & wallow in it.

Many thanks Battle boys for another great album that brings it back home.
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on 12 September 2012
Recently I was planning to undertake a twelve hour journey by car so I decided to purchase a few new albums including Strangeland by Keane. It would never have been a first choice. I had only ever heard one track and together with what was written here in the reviews I added it to my collection. What a great Album? I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend to anybody who has never purchased a Keane Album before or who just enjoys good music.
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