Keane get a lot of flack and, to be fair, there has always been something vaguely sappy about them. For many, they will always be a vaguely naff version of Coldplay.
Harsh? Fair? Who knows...
Anyway, for whatever reason, new album ‘Perfect Symmetry’ sees them attempt to move their sound into new, more upbeat territory. Fans will be pleased to know that - intentionally or not - they never quite escape their musical DNA; this is still packed with the typically Keane-ish melodies that have probably had more to do with their success to date than anything else. It must be said that, lyrically, it never really rises above the poor to mediocre, either, which is disappointing, but not that surprising; whatever about the piano lead, it's time to throw out that rhyming dictionary.
But the production is edgier than before, with the trademark emotionally manipulative piano lines occasionally taking a back seat. That said, the best tracks are those that sound most like the Keane of old - traditionally structured pop-ballads with moody, building verses followed by gently exploding courses.
Some of the more experimental tracks - ‘Better Than This’ in particular and the fusion 'Pretend That You're Alone', which sounds like an old-school Keane song that has been speeded up and had a drum beat added for a bet - don’t’ really work at all (really, it's almost like some hybrid Hawaiian-themed wedding band Keane. Shudder...)
Opener ‘Spiralling’, replete with background ‘whoops’ and driving drum beat, is a very different type of track for Keane but it's one that comes off. New single ‘The Lovers Are Losing’ is a successfully catchy piece of wistful pop.
All in all, this doesn’t have the same rolling, effortless flow of Keane's most well known work, but there is a new passion and energy about the best bits that make it work here and there.
This won't win any new converts, and the quality is variable, but it's not bad.