Keane
Night Train


2.0
poor

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 11th, 2010 | 20 replies | 9,129 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A less than desirable change in direction that will hopefully be remedied by Keane’s next full-length album.

What a difference a few years make. In 2006, Keane released the atmospheric gem, Under the Iron Sea, which was arguably the best work of the young band's accomplished catalogue. 2008’s follow-up Perfect Symmetry saw them lose a large portion of their original fan base, as they opted for more of a frivolous 80’s-pop sound. However, the album still had enough redeeming qualities and accessible singles (“The Lovers Are Losing”) to keep the band afloat. Now, Keane releases the EP Night Train, which features contributions from two R&B musicians and even ventures into hip-hop. While Keane’s versatility has always been a strength, it seems this time they have gone too far off the deep end. Not even Tom Chaplin’s vocals can save Keane from the eclectic mess that is Night Train.

Considering the success of Keane’s first two LP’s, Hopes & Fears and Under the Iron Sea, their insistence on changing is baffling. Experimentation is often a wonderful thing, provided that the band doesn’t overstep their creative bounds. When Radiohead released OK Computer in 1997, fans were stunned but ultimately fell in love with its beauty. When Thrice dropped their post-hardcore influences for more of an atmospheric rock sound in Vheissu, a similar appreciation was developed. The problem with Keane’s evolution is that instead of playing to the band’s strengths (Chaplin’s vocals, synthesized ambiance, piano balladry, etc.) they continuously force the issue with genres they don’t belong in. It started to become apparent with Perfect Symmetry, and now it is painfully obvious with the release of their new EP.

Ironically, Night Train kicks things off in a comparatively traditional manner for Keane. The instrumental track “House Lights” is dark and foreboding; an ominous introduction more to the liking of Under the Iron Sea than anything the band has done recently. It contains a dense sonic environment/aura for a song that comes in at less than a minute and a half, and definitely instills a heavy mood in the listener. Unfortunately, what the first track succeeds to create essentially vanishes for the rest of the album, as Keane once again chooses to dabble in a genre that is, at best, questionably suited for them. Songs such as “Stop for a Minute” and “Looking Back” rely too heavily on Somali hip-hop artist K’naan’s influence and not enough on the classic Keane sound that launched them into success to begin with. The two sounds could have been successfully blended, but instead it just sounds like a rendition of Keane Goes Hip-Hop, or some other awful variation of the “Punk Goes…” series. All in all, these tracks end up sounding choppy, forced, and unnatural. “Ishin Denshin”, featuring Japanese artist Tigarah, doesn’t fare much better with its techno-sounding beats and Tigarah’s the less-than-helpful vocals. As is the case with most of the songs featuring contributing vocalists, Keane would have been better off doing the job themselves and letting Chaplin take the reigns.

Fortunately, there are still some songs on Night Train that do just that. “Back in Time” and “Clear Skies”, while still weak against Keane’s standards, manage to at least bring the listener close to the expectations he or she would have from the band. In particular, “Clear Skies” brings experimentation to the table that is actually welcome, utilizing hand claps and xylophone-like keyboarding that really draws attention to the band’s keen sense of instrumentation. Night Train’s second to last song, “My Shadow” is easily the most triumphant moment on the entire album. It ties together all of Keane’s strengths, while eliminating the majority of the bad 80’s and hip-hop influence they have accumulated over their latter years. Additionally, it serves to bring the focus back to the true strength of the band, Tom Chaplin’s vocals and lyrics.

As a whole, Night Train is a very troubled EP. It crosses over into genres that the band struggles to succeed in, then brings in featured artists that somehow seem to make the transition seem even more awkward. There is a silver lining to this EP, however, as it contains just enough moments of “classic Keane” to give one hope that the band can still recover. And that is what Night Train leaves us with…a less than desirable change in direction that will hopefully be remedied by Keane’s next full-length album.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
2.4
average
other reviews of this album
Oceania (4)
I can understand why Keane fans were confused, but Night Train is a strange case where I enjoy the c...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2010



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I used to love these guys. Hearing this EP made me die a little inside.

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Greggers
May 11th 2010



2375 Comments


I saw an advert for this and I couldn't believe it was Keane, such a dramatic change from their older stuff.

Good review as well dude, have a pos

Zettel
May 11th 2010



582 Comments


Great review.

themainmast
May 11th 2010



243 Comments


good review, i feel like this EP wasn't "poor" though. "your love", sung amazingly by tim rice-oxley, is one of my favorite keane songs. "stop for a minute" is also really good and so is "looking back". not a "poor" album at all. and i'm not a rap/hip/hop fan.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2010



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

perhaps it is influenced by my expectations a bit. i mean sure, some of the songs have potential to grow on you...but compared to just about anything they've done before, this is poor. i was hovering between a 2 and a 2.5 ftr, but 2 just fits my opinion of the album better

Nagrarok
May 12th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Great work, this rating was what I was sort of expecting. Don't like anything they did after UTIS.

Captain North
May 12th 2010



6779 Comments


I think I'm just going to avoid this. I adore Hopes & Fears, kinda iffy on Under The Iron Sea and never bothered with a second listen of Perfect Symmetry.

PunPun
May 12th 2010



14 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

My Shadow and Back in Time are the only quality songs here, the rest I could take or leave, which hurts because I even personally loved Perfect Symmetry.

JWT155
May 12th 2010



9205 Comments


Meh, hope this isn't so. Still probably gonna check out. Under the Iron Sea was so good.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2010



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I just wish they'd get back to what made them one of my favorite artists back in early-mid 2000's.

Nagrarok
May 12th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I just wish they'd get back to what made them one of my favorite artists back in early-mid 2000's.


My thoughts exactly.

MasterandCommander
May 12th 2010



10 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Such a bad piece of work, and to think Under The Iron Sea was my first album.

Brylawski
May 12th 2010



709 Comments


I just wish they'd get back to what made them one of my favorite artists back in early-mid 2000's

boring piano rock accompanied by a chubby singer with a pudding bowl haircut. ah, classic

Nagrarok
May 12th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Having listened to this now, I pretty much agree 100% with the review. My Shadow is the only song I really liked. Keane need to get their shit together and start making good music again.

Parallels
May 12th 2010



6640 Comments


now i cant stop seeing the ad at the top of sputnik. lololol

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2010



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

seriously? where is all that praise coming from?

Parallels
May 12th 2010



6640 Comments


ive come to realize rolling stone dosent know shit about music

robin
Emeritus
May 17th 2010



4241 Comments


its kind of sad how obsessed theyve become with being intentionally lame. they were lame enough anyway. i kinda miss under the iron sea a lot.

royscoop19
May 19th 2010



137 Comments


It's funny because just above this review it's being advertised as the best thing ever.

edit
but it's probably shit.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2010



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

ugh it really isn't. its been about a week and i already skip every song on this album when they come up on my itunes. my opinion > the mass media



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