Keane
Perfect Symmetry


2.0
poor

Review

by robin EMERITUS
October 13th, 2008 | 47 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A bad dream.

I have recently noticed a trend that runs a line between Noel Gallagher and insanity. The theory may be sketchy in places, but can basically get going anywhere. You can notice it in Bloc Party’s resentment to be seen as the band that created Silent Alarm and to have electro-fun instead, which may or may not be related to Gallagher’s labelling them as “Indie ***”. You might be able to trace Damon Albarn’s indignant reaction to Britpop in his latest offbeat attempts at Chinese theatre. Jay-Z even ended up performing “Wonderwall” live after a feud between the two parties that essentially went nowhere. Of course, these moot antics would be a challenge to relate to Noel Gallagher, let alone one another, but how about this to seal the deal: experiencing Keane’s free release of “Spiralling” made me realise, amidst attempts to prove Gallagher wrong, that the “three biggest wankers in a band” had accidentally transported themselves to the 80s.

On listening to Perfect Symmetry, however, I can confirm that “Spiralling” gave away absolutely nothing. With its original release, you were urged to detest its unbearable 80s idolization, but also embrace it as a guilty pleasure. As it comes opening Perfect Symmetry, things have changed. The wild Ooo!s are subdued, steel drums replace the original carefree synth sounds, and the song’s saving grace – its chorus – becomes deflated. Even the topic-confused bridge becomes dirge, the lines Did you wanna be the president? Did you wanna start a war? Did you wanna be in love? are politically and romantically comical, and certainly not worthy of the extension they garner. Whether or not the listener had doted upon the original radio release, this restrain already begins Perfect Symmetry with a crack.

Actually, “Spiralling” gave away absolutely nothing not because it lied concerning the nostalgic keyboard groove, but more so because everything on the band’s third effort has glaring spaces that are begging to be filled with music. There’s something on title track “Perfect Symmetry”, an Abba abducted fan-tune, that unfortunately needs revising. As the cries of Wrap yourself around me echo their intention to be the song’s – the album’s - focal point, you wonder what exactly is being differentiated. Aside from the no-guitar, distinguishable-piano attributes, all that “Perfect Symmetry” can do for Keane is sound strikingly, hauntingly like an Abba revival. It’s a tool that oozes with perplexing smoothness, but aside from its shining surface meanders into repeated nothingness.

The sad thing is that this backwards trend could be as fun as Tom Chaplin wishes it would be if only it wasn’t so watered down. The album has, aside from its quick-to-wane synth-pop novelty, no role to play. It’s moments such as the cold cries of You don’t see me in, well, “You Don’t See Me”, that Perfect Symmetry proves to be its own personality crisis. The droning four minutes manage to mash up the crushing noises of Under The Iron Sea and the ballad-esque bleakness of debut Hopes & Fears. Unfortunately, Keane seem to be unable to re-enact these forays appropriately and eventually show up their third self-described ‘fun’ sound as shallow; it hides behind what they know, and adds in ridiculous tricks. Even “Love Is The End” sounds like a decadent interpretation of how the two previous closers sounded. Once more around the block, however, the hopeless love ballad is painful for the wrong reasons – the disjointed blend of sluggish drumming and lame piano chords create a sound too sleazy to be even remotely beautiful. This is what troubles Perfect Symmetry; when it matters most, Keane remember themselves in all the wrong ways and try to fathom it into something far too inoffensive.

Perfect Symmetry has a saving grace in “You Haven’t Told Me Anything”, delving into a spacey mood that isn’t compromised by being either over-the-top or untouched. This balance remains unmatched throughout the ten tracks that surround it – whether it is the toning down of the sing-along “Spiralling” or the disappointingly emotionless “Love Is The End”, there is no cold, creepy, or (much to their anguish), all-encompassing world to delve into. Sadly and simply put, the three “biggest wankers in a band” don’t have the quirky upbringing they want, and it shows. Tom Chaplin can hope all he wants, but Perfect Symmetry will never hold the self-proclaimed ‘pop’ sing-a-longs it so nearly could.



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user ratings (176)
Chart.
2.8
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Spamue1G
October 13th 2008


1292 Comments


One of the best written reviews I've seen recently! Nice work!
I'm not big on Keane anyway, so there's no chance that I'll look at this, really.

robin
Emeritus
October 13th 2008


4261 Comments


thanks. i was pretty big on keane up until this release, actually. hopefully atavanhalen will give his view on this, though.

Spamue1G
October 13th 2008


1292 Comments


The intro was the best bit
atavanhalen wouldn't dream of missing out on giving his views on this, I'm sure!

P13
October 13th 2008


1327 Comments


fuck steel drums

robin
Emeritus
October 13th 2008


4261 Comments


how the times have changed eh

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 13th 2008


20858 Comments


Haha. As soon as I saw the review posted, the first thing I thought was that AtavanHalen has been beaten to the punch again... As well as the fact that he won't be happy with the album rating!
Good stuff Robin. I loved the opening paragraph & the so-called "Noel Galagher Jinx".
One question on the album though; Don't they use guitars a lot here...??? If so, I think that was worth mentioning more in the review.

AtavanHalen
October 13th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Am I really that predictable, Davey?
Goddamnit.

joshuatree
Emeritus
October 13th 2008


3742 Comments


this is exactly the type of terrible music you like

McP3000
October 14th 2008


3941 Comments


what a bad band

robin
Emeritus
October 14th 2008


4261 Comments


One question on the album though; Don't they use guitars a lot here...??? If so, I think that was worth mentioning more in the review.


i guess you're right on that one, it was something i didn't touch on much because i didn't think it changed their sound much; maybe i should've mentioned THAT. :p

AtavanHalen
October 14th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually really, really liked what they did with the sound on this record.

robin
Emeritus
October 14th 2008


4261 Comments


probably more appealing to people who enjoy music

scottayboy
October 14th 2008


34 Comments


Well-written review, but seriously... this album is catchy and really fun. Easier listen than their other albums, too. Probably a 4 for me.

AtavanHalen
October 14th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

probably more appealing to people who enjoy music

???

taylormemer
October 14th 2008


4953 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

In other words. You have shit taste.

rasputin
October 14th 2008


14555 Comments


Haha. So many good calls on Atavan, today's the day.

robin
Emeritus
October 14th 2008


4261 Comments


oh hey! i never meant that. :/

anyway, i'm gonna try and edit in a little information of the guitar development, like davey suggested

ps damnit what did i miss that got deleted This Message Edited On 10.14.08

AtavanHalen
October 15th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

In other words. You have **** taste.

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bastard
October 16th 2008


3435 Comments


angels and airwaves

robin
Emeritus
October 16th 2008


4261 Comments


have no place in this review



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