Keane – Strangeland

Keane – Strangeland

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Keane’s first full-length since 2008’s Perfect Symmetry sees the East Sussex lads up to their old soaring, piano-rocking ways. The tunes composed for Strangeland hark back towards each of their previous three discs, which bore heart-on-sleeve, lyrical, piano-driven and some dancier, more pop-based selections. The sound of the quartet remains (recently bolstered by new bassist Jesse Quin) is akin to contemporary countrymen Starsailor and Travis.

Lead singer/acoustic guitarist Tom Chaplin’s vocals are strong in the upper-range on opening song “You Are Young,” while lead single “Silenced by the Night” is a tale of urban redemption and an instant Keane classic. “Disconnected,” the second single, features and equally Keane-like fist-pumping, heart-baring chorus. Things quiet down for the stirring piano ballad “Watch How You Go,” treating the experience of having a lover who passes through one’s life fleetingly.

The next two tracks skew towards ’80s piano-pop, the stronger “Sovereign Light Café” drawing on Genesis-era Phil Collins and sounding like it could be from a Broadway musical debuted in that decade. “On the Road” is reassuring lyrically, if somewhat hokey instrumentally.

Another standout number is “The Starting Line,” which contains some of the best lyric-writing of the CD (“Forget the ghosts that make you old before your time,” for instance). Chaplin shows of his falsetto on “Black Rain,” an equally well-written tune (“If you’ve got love / you better hope that that’s enough”). “Neon River” is light, airy synth-pop with strains of electric guitar. The final song, “Sea Fog” is a hymn-like, rock-prayer.

This Strangeland covers some familiar territory for Keane and feeds off 2010 EP Night Train’s citified, modern-life ethos that recurs in their latest release’s cover art (a skyline partially submerged in what appears to be dirt or sand). All in all, Keane proved they still know how to craft a rock song — and they put the talent to good use again.


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