Words by Cesilia Oriana Trecaquista
Keane’s latest release, ‘Strangeland’ – the fourth studio album from the British quartet, achieves its goal of being less production led, reverting back to the songwriting and keyboard dominance that made their first and second albums; ‘Hope and Fears’ and ‘Under the Iron Sea’, so successful.
‘Strangeland’ is pleasant enough; an album that allows Chaplin’s distinctive vocals to soar on a series on tracks reminiscent of early Keane days.
Personal favorites are the Lennon-esque, ‘Watch how you go’, and the melancholic ‘Sea fog’. The songwriting is strong and honest, with a clear recurring theme; that of prevailing against testing times, running through tracks such as ‘The Starting Line’ and ’You are young’.
There are, unfortunately, some tracks that do not make the grade. ’On the road’, is a power ballad almost so clichéd and predictable in its composition, it feels uncomfortable; and unnecessary to pursue listening to the end.
And for me, ‘Silenced by the Night’ has far too many Coldplay comparisons too mention. Imagine the drone of Chris Martin’s vocals instead of Chaplin’s, and you’ll understand what I mean.
But despite the fact Keane do nothing new with this album; in terms of style and substance, the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.
If the criticism of Keane, when venturing out of their comfort zone (‘Perfect Symmetry’, Keane’s penultimate studio album) is anything to go by, they have been arguable wise to stick to what they know. And what they are known for.
Keane are now four albums old, and have at least tried (and, arguably, failed) to experiment with new sounds; whether through choice, natural band progression or simply to placate critics challenging them to be ‘less formulaic’.
And with ‘Strangeland’, Keane give their dedicated fanbase what they really want; solid songwriting, melodic (if not slightly clichéd) compositions and a comfortable collection of music.
One, albeit at times inevitably predictable, that will no doubt satisfy their followers.
‘Strangeland’ is available now. For more on Keane, visit http://www.keanemusic.com/