A Wonderfully Fresh, New Sound from Keane
Chris Spiller | Las Vegas, NV USA | 10/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Keane released 'Spiralling,' the first track and first single from 'Perfect Symmetry,' on the Internet for fans to preview, I was--as any Keane fan would be--eager to download and preview the track. I quickly snagged the free file and listened, letting the sound fill my ears. After the last beats left my speakers, I was left scratching my head. "What ... is this?" I thought. "This is Keane?"
It would take another listen or two for my feelings to shift from mild disappointment to something much more positive. I had been conditioned, as a Keane devotee, to expect a certain sound, and it took a shift in perspective for what I heard from 'Spiralling' to really strike me as something decidedly fulfilling, especially as a Keane track. The sound of 'Spiralling,' and the rest of 'Perfect Symmetry''s tracks, is a dramatic stylistic departure from Keane's previous offerings, and it will take some time to warm up to for those expecting a repeat of those first two albums.
What Keane had done with their first single is take all the creative energy built up from their exploits throughout Berlin and Paris and channel it into something exciting and fresh. 'Spiralling' is something very different from the Keane sounds of old, but I found it to be a very good thing. After all, how can a band evolve and grow without taking risks and trying new things? Keane swung at that fastball and hit it right out of the park.
This same exciting 'let's go for it' attitude extends to the rest of the album.
Right from the get-go, Perfect Symmetry sounds like the boys of Keane sought to stretch out and just have fun. And that's what Perfect Symmetry gives you--a wonderful mix of fun, 80's-inspired electronic sound with the fit and finish that this band brings to an album. Fans of Keane's piano-centric sound need not worry--'Perfect Symmetry' does not dispense of piano in favor of synths. They have, instead, complemented the pure, acoustic sound of the piano, and it shines.
Many tracks, from the previously mentioned 'Spiralling' with it's fun, hard-hitting, relentless charge, to 'Again and Again,' are up-tempo and fun, a startling contrast from the dark, brooding tones of 'Under the Iron Sea.' That being said, the men of Keane have not neglected their talent for deep, moving ballads, such as with 'You Don't See Me,' which serves up a bit of softness to give you a break after the edgy sounds of the album's other up-tempo selections.
The perfect blend of the hard-and-fast and introspective sounds of 'Perfect Symmetry' comes with the disc's title track, which is an absolute masterpiece, which blends ever-building, harmonious refrains with a soaring, deeply-moving chorus that gave me goose bumps the first time I heard it. It is truly one of Keane's best songs, and--while just a teensy bit over-the-top at times--is the crowning jewel of 'Perfect Symmetry.'
Long-time Keane fans may have to take a step back and approach this one with fresh eyes, but this effort is well worth it. 'Perfect Symmetry' is not a revolution in the world of pop, but it certainly may be for Keane, and that's certainly enough."
Excellent Return of a good band
Randy J. Hengartner | Denver CO, USA | 10/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A great album of this amazing band. There is virtually no song that is bad to me , so artistic beautiful sounds , brilliant lyrics with a touch of 80's style. I am not a big fan but definitely this album is the best they have ever produce . Excellent purchase ."
Keane Deserves More Respect
Sam M. Engle | Atlanta | 10/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a Keane fan since the early days. I have everything they released and I could buy. I never understood the comparison to Coldplay. Is it solely because the two bands love keyboards? So did later Van Halen and neither British import sounds like the 80s rockers. Is it because both are British? So is Amy Winehouse, and neither band shares much in common with her except the accent - and the ability to innovate innovatively (i.e., unlike most others.)
Coldplay's orchestration and lyrics - and their artistic sensibilities - differ quite significantly from Keane's, except that both bands are children of the 80s - the U2, Fixx 80s, not the Debbie Gibson 80s, and as such, both infuse their music with a bit of darkness, edginess, desperation.
I love Coldplay, let's be clear. This isn't a "which Brit band is better?" This is about a solid, sensitive, searching band being misunderstood and dismissed too quickly by us all-too-knowing, too-influenced-by-radio listeners on this side of the Pond. (And let's be clear. I love America.)
So, Perfect Symmetry. Tom Chaplin's voice is clear and more nimble than ever. Tom can wrap his vocal chords around a note and nail it then sustain it, caress it, love it. (Could be catty here and ask if Chris Martin could do so? No, his signature, like Sheryl Crow is to miss the note so compellingly you have to listen to the genius lyrics - it made Bob Dylan a mint, so why not? And all three are gifted songwriters and musicians.) He stretches without sounding stretched or strained, he yearns and gasps for breath and you yearn and gasp along with him.
The band has tried to shake things up without shaking away what makes Keane special - the distorted sounds that sound normal after a few spins of the CD, the slightly off-kilter beats that keep the song in line. This is, perhaps, their most political album, though these are not the typical politics of Left v Right. They are the politics of people understanding people, people in conflict, in chaos, in fear. In this sense, Keane is like Coldplay, whose Viva La Vida also is a searing commentary on the current state of affairs. It's not mimicry, but rather symptom of the times, much like the music of U2, the Fixx, Depeche Mode and other bands of the 81-85 era. How can a band not be influenced by the fear and chaos around them?
The album opens with this jarring, dissonant yet musical whoop - Ooooh! We're spiralling down. It contrasts sharply with the pure musicality of Tom's voice, which is the point, and even Tom's voice is a bit distorted, processed, which, again is the point. Tim Rice-Oxley has a brilliant ear - he hears what none of us hear until he plays it for us and we nod our heads and say, "Ah, yes! Tinny sound, full sound, edgy sound...play it again!" And drummer Richard Hughes is no less creative and restless, creating a beat, beat, beat-up backdrop without which we cannot do.
Spiralling is edgy, the edgiest I've ever heard Tom's voice. There's an impatience, an anger, an irony. "I know you people," he seems to be saying, and Tim's keyboards echo, "Yeah! I know you posers," and Richard's drums pound like a fist in your face. But who is posing - them or us?
Talk about political, angry, sad and warning. That's the song around which the album is built: Perfect Symmetry. Listen to it. Again. Again. Who is and isn't implicated? This is and should be an anthem for this time. Why it isn't, I don't understand, and that's why I am not a record company exec.
My favorite tracks are Spiralling, The Lovers are Losing, Perfect Symmetry, Again and Again, Playing Along.
Do I miss the heartwrenching songs like Bedshaped, She Has No Time? Yes, I do. But I also recognize that now is a time for being pushed, for being questioned, for being energized and enraged, and it is a time of deep, wonderful musical exploration.
I highly recommend this CD. It isn't perfect, but then again, are any of us? Do any of us produce perfect work? Might we find lessons and inspiration in the fragile imperfect world in which we live? Keane says yes. Oh, and the bonus DVD is interesting. Not as deep as the DVD for Under the Iron Sea, but if you like or love Keane, what's to lose? Love Richard's dog costume!"