Monday, June 11, 2012

Album Review. "Strangeland" by Keane.

Strangeland is the fourth studio album by English alternative rock band Keane. It was released on May 4th, 2012. This is the first album to feature bassist Jesse Quin as an official member of the band.

Keane are:
Tom Chaplin Lead vocals, lead electric guitar, acoustic guitar, organ
Tim Rice-Oxley Backing vocals, piano, keyboards, synthesisers
Richard Hughes Drums, percussion
Jesse Quin - Bass guitar, rhythm guitar, electric guitar

Here is a short review of all the songs on the album.

Track #1: You Are Young
Keane starts off proceedings with this sweeping, encouraging song. It is replete with soaring piano melodies, motivating lyrics and an upbeat tempo. A good beginning to the album.

Track #2:  Silenced By The Night
This was the first single from the album and to be honest, I was disappointed when I heard it first. It grew on me slowly, but I'd question their decision to release this as their lead single. There's a lot going in the song in terms of music, but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired.
"If I am a river, you are the ocean / Got the radio on, got the wheels in motion."
That made me cringe.

Track #3: Disconnected
The first two tracks on the album were somewhat on a similar tempo scale. Disconnected breaks it down a bit with it's off-beat beginning. The chorus of this song is addictive. The "Ooooh" by Chaplin will haunt you comfortingly at least for a week.

Track #4: Watch How You Go
At this point of time in the album, you feel they're deliberately slowing it down. Nevertheless, this is a nice, slow ballad. The lyrics are uncomplicated and so is the music.

Track #5: Sovereign Light Café
One of the two best tracks on this record. A wonderful song talking about "wide-eyed dreamers", familiar streets and heavy on nostalgia about their teenage years. It's been just over a month since the album release and I play this song at least five times everyday.

Track #6: On The Road
On The Road straightaway has an anthemic sound to it, but gets exhausting. Lyrically, the last line is the best on this track.
"Sometimes a dream itself can keep you safe, all along the road..."

Track #7: The Starting Line
A song that will inspire and comfort you in equal measure. Some of you may find this the best track on the album and understandably so.
"Each heart is a paper kite, blown around by the breeze / Love won't rest till it brings you to your knees..."

Track #8: Black Rain
Dark, brooding and melancholic. For the first time in the album, you feel Keane is experimenting with their sound, breaking away from their signature style. An honest effort. 

Track #9: Neon River
I love this song, especially the beginning notes. It slowly picks up tempo and climaxes with a full-throated sound on Rice-Oxley's piano, which fills your ears wonderfully well.

Track #10: Day Will Come
Day Will Come picks up where On The Road left off, tempo-wise. Only it carries the baton much better overall. Chaplin tries to convince the listener that the good times will return.
"Some days set your world on fire / And some days they sink like stones."

Track #11: In Your Own Time
Tom Chaplin shows us his full range of flawless vocal abilities on this track.  And Tim Rice-Oxley showcases how he has become the backbone of Keane's piano-rock sound since 1997.

Track #12: Sea Fog
Tom Chaplin, take a bow. His vocals on this concluding track will give you goosebumps. The pain is evident, the hope shines through and the result is a strong case for him to be regarded as one of the finest lead vocalists of our time. Sea Fog is an elegant end to a solid album.

Keane are often criticized for not experimenting much with their predominantly piano-rock sound. When they do, they are panned for moving away from their strengths. As we all know, this doesn't matter much. The fans love their music.
This has been termed as a back-to-the-basics, safe approach by Keane; a step backwards from the bold forays of their 2008 album, Perfect Symmetry. Honestly, I don't see any problem with that. Rediscovering your roots is no crime, as long as you have good material and sounds for the public.

They play to their strengths and the result is that Strangeland will find a place for a long time even in your 2 GB iPod Shuffle.

Rating: 8/10

Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own. Not everyone will agree with them. Feel free to post your comments.

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