Loyal readers will know that I am a big fan of Keane’s first two records – some of the finest piano-driven pop rock that has hit the scene in a long time. The new direction of their third outing, “Perfect Symmetry” left me cold (review here). Unfortunately on their latest, “Night Train”, they veer even further from their roots and into a terrain that I am not willing to follow anymore.
Not all of “Night Train” is off the track, though. “Back In Time” and “Clear Skies” are pleasant tunes, with breezy acoustic guitar accompanying a more or less classic Keane arrangement. “My Shadow” also has an understated beauty in its simplicity, but remains a far cry from what Keane did on their first two records. Sadly, the rest of the songs polluting this release are catastrophic. “Looking Back” and “Stop For A Minute” are plagued with hip-hop influence from Somali/Canadian rapper K’Naan. The band has also gone overboard with their incorporation of dated 80s synth and drum sounds – what happened to the soaring piano melodies we fell in love with? “Ishin Denshin (You’ve Got To Help Yourself)” is a complete embarrassment, sounding like a track even Erasure would pass on, and it serves as as clear example of how far Keane has strayed from their senses.
The new CD was dubbed “Night Train” because the rails were Keane’s favorite mode of transportation during the “Perfect Symmetry” tour, but this is one train that should have never left the station.
iPOD-worthy: 2, 4