Keane - Perfect Symmetry

Alisha Ahmed 13/11/2008

Rating: 3/5

There's nothing but great expectations about Keane's third album, Perfect Symmetry. The 'piano rock band' tag they garnered before has less reason to be there this time. It seems like the presence of Jon Brion as one of the producers can be detected by the '80s feeling of the drum patterns and electronic sounds, but since 2008 has been the year of that decade's revival I cannot help but wonder why, oh why everybody thinks that music has to go in circles just as fashion? I don't get it, not if it doesn't come from a genuine inspiration, but it's just a way to follow the current trend. I am not saying the result cannot be good. Indeed, Perfect Symmetry has individual identity. Keane have their own established style, even though this time around it's been spiced up a little with a renewed instrument palette where the keyboards aren't the main feature anymore and where synths and guitars are instead in the spotlight.

The album opens on Spiralling, with synth and 'ooh's that could be directly sampled from a typical '80s song. The Lovers are Losing follows on the same path, but more in keeping with Keane's established style, and its beginning will remind fans of their Crystal Ball song. Better Than This follows with an interesting mix of sounds (a synth with a banjo in the background, listen carefully and you'll find it), You Haven't Told me Anything follows pretty much the same lines of the previous songs, but has been graced by the production of Jon Brion (Magnolia, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and the rest will be pretty much just a variation along this formation as well. Turn Up the Volume ends in a very majestic way, and if you don't turn up the volume listening, no problem, these guys will just play louder for you, and I must say I really like this kind of meta-communication in music, it shows a bit of cleverness that just can't be taken for granted.

Perfect Symmetry closes on the sweetest note with Love Is The End, a classic in every sense: a classic ballad, and a Keane classic. It's the bright start to look forward to, and the candy treat at the end of the journey. You know the kind of songs which just are born and bred to be the blanket which will warm you in the fall's night when it gets dark earlier but everything glows under the city lights produced by cars and early Christmas lights. This is the soundtrack made for that moment. Rice-Oxley's piano is backed prominently here and Chaplin's vocals drive the song to an epic ending (epic in the British meaning of the term, think Embrace for example). I wish I could give a 'cum laude' to this album just because of this song. I see Keane are trying to make a diversion in their own style, but what I am not sure about is how well they thought it through if the best piece is the only one sticking to their established sound.