Review: Keane – Strangeland
Published on May 15th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Keane are easy to mock – they seem like nice, unremarkable guys making nice, unremarkable music – but while the levels of opprobrium they attract in some quarters are probably unjustified, there’s no escaping the fact that this is total and utter fluff fit for syncing opportunities with Hollyoaks or Scrubs.
Sometimes it pays to keep things simple, but Keane take this philosophy to frankly irritating degrees. For starters, they basically recycle the same two or three chord progressions over and over again, and they’re all so rigidly tonal, predictable and similarly rendered (yes, that shiny piano still dominates) that you wonder how they managed to write and record 16 tracks of it without the studio descending into a boredom-induced bloodbath.
It’s not all bad – “Watch How You Go” is okay, as is the verging-on-Guillemots “Penultimate”, while closer “It’s Not Sure” is perhaps the closest Keane have come to resembling The Beach Boys, which has got to be something to build on for next time.
Other tracks merely start promisingly – the rodeo-like romp of “On the Road”, the amusing toy drum machine of “Day Will Come” and the sci-fi synth of “In Your Own Time” – but to a number they all wind up as Just Another Keane Song, the latter in particular pissing away by far the album’s most interesting sound in favour of depressingly coffee-table, latter-day-U2-meets-Robbie-Williams fare. Seriously, someone should have said something.
As song titles, the back-to-back “Black Rain” and “Neon River” are so frustratingly inappropriate, suggestive as they are of darkness and introspection, but such shifts of mood are not to be expected of a band who continue to show no adventure, no artistic ambition and no sense of mischief. It’s just all so agonisingly plodding and simplistic, although it’s probably nice enough if you just relax your brain and pay next to no attention to it.
16 tracks, 16 reinventions of the wheel – overall, Strangeland is quite the misnomer.
Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!