Less than keen on ‘Perfect Symmetry’

Brenna McNamara

Keane has yet to surpass the mediocre mark

The first time I heard and disliked Keane was in high school, when their single “Somewhere Only We Know” seemed to ride out its fame for a bit too long.

I remember that single played at too many post-football dances. I remember the lyrics in my buddies’ away messages. I remember brushing them off as nothing more than so-so.

I also remember a bus ride home from Mississippi, during which the badass of my class, whom I worshiped for his curly hair and sparkling music taste, preached about Keane’s overlooked greatness. I remember yielding to those deep brown eyes, putting on his headphones, nodding in fake affirmation that maybe I was wrong.

Well, after five years, some extra self-confidence and a listen to the Oct. 13 release of “Perfect Symmetry,” I’d take that nod back. I’d look into those brown eyes and say, “Yeah, they’re okay.”

Keane’s third album is hardly more than lackluster. The trio’s usually sensitive piano-fronted, melodic numbers have been downplayed for more of an 80s pop flair. Despite this rejuvenation, it gets boring. It does have a handful of good. Unfortunately, that good is too often overshadowed by the bad.

The first track and first single of the album, “Spiraling,” will leave fans wondering where this “disco-ey” sound came from. Complete with synthesizers, the shouting of “oooh!” and less mellow vocals, it’s notably different from the usual piano-heavy sound. It’s the most dramatic of the 11 tracks.

The second track and second single, “Lovers are Losing,” opens with a deep bass. Vocalist Tom Chaplin’s fluid and pretty voice climbs up and down the notes, singing lyrics like “We cling to love like a skidding car/clinched to the corner.” Similarly, that’s what listening to the song is like. Some parts work, but while they do, it’s hard not to anticipate more cliché lyrics and awkward sounds.

“Perfect Symmetry” continues along the same pace, but lighter on the synthesizer and heavier on the preachy lyrics.

“You Haven’t Told Me Anything” has a catchy beat and awesome layering of claps, guitar and unique noises. Of course, there’s a con. The lyrical progression is frustrating. The verses are somewhat clever and use the perfect amount of repetition, then that charm is forgotten when the chorus is repeated far too much.

This yo-yo trend continues. The title track exemplifies the morbid yet hopeful theme of the album; however, it is far too preachy in doing so. “You Don’t See Me” has a great line: “Radiant people in splintering light/all moving at the speed of life/reflecting in each other’s eyes.”

The album tends to get boring. Then, according to plan, the final song “Love is the End” succeeds in being a simple lullaby-like gem.

In the end, no long-haired boy on the back of a bus will be able to reason to me that the charms of “Perfect Symmetry” are strong enough to be worthy of my precious megabytes. Keane will remain a precious, amateurish band in my precious, amateurish memory.

Contact all reporter Brenna McNamara at [email protected]u.