Keane’s Strangeland Hits Home
By Sandra Mae Laureano
You might remember hearing about Keane for the first time ever when MTV Asia (at the time it was screened in Philippine television) hailed the band as the month’s Buzzworthy (which can be roughly translated to ‘Artist of the Month’ for the 90s MTV tuners). Even then, Keane had been a band that went beyond expectations. When the music videos of “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Everybody’s Changing” premiered in 2004, they were rather bare. They featured three British lads – one in vocals, one in piano and one in drums. That’s right. No guitars. Not even bass. The surprise doesn’t end there, though. With such a minimalistic approach, astoundingly, their music never lacked for anything. As it goes, Keane is characterized by the piano-driven melodies complemented with the vivacious drumbeats and wrapped in the glasslike vocals that sung with such sophistication and refinement.
With Tom Chaplin on vocals, Tim Rice-Oxley on piano/keyboards and Richard Hughes on drums, Keane seemed to aim to set themselves apart from stereotyped rock band. Whereas most bands chose to wield a guitar and screech the life out of it, Keane was intent on keeping their music bare, pure even. Their albums, Hopes and Fears (2004) and Under the Iron Sea (2006), were composed of completely piano-driven songs which is an incredible achievement by itself. Even more commendable is the immense variety they managed to present just by using synthesizers and distortions in the keyboard. Their songs contained fluctuating tones of estrangement and wistfulness with lyrics that were arranged intelligently and delicately. From the semi-melancholic/existentialist feel of “Bedshaped”, “Atlantic”, “Hamburg Song” and “A Bad Dream” to the melodious hits such as “This Is the Last Time”, “Crystal Ball”, “Is It Any Wonder?”, “Can’t Stop Now: and “Bend and Break”, surely something would captivate your ears (if it hadn’t already).
It was in 2008 that the band greatly upped their game a notch with the release of the eclectic and electronic album titled Perfect Symmetry. This time, Keane actually started using percussions, employing the help of guitarist Jesse Quin who officially became a member of the band later. “Spiralling”, the first single released, definitely made noise as it became a widely successful hit in the UK. This was followed by equally groovy tracks such as “Lovers Are Losing”, “Perfect Symmetry”, “Again and Again” and “Better than This”. As radical as the changes in musical style were, the songs were still definitively Keane’s. The mesh of 80s pop with their signature piano-driven style made the album irresistible, to say the least.
Four years went by and here we are with Strangeland, the same title for their world tour that is about to hit Manila in a few weeks. Currently, 4 music videos from the album had been released – “Silenced by the Night”, “Disconnected”, “Black Rain” and “Sovereign Light Café”. Strangeland is as apt as titles go. The songs evoke such intrinsic familiarity within a person, the kind that would remind you of home, yet it somehow also alienates you. After the enormous change in their previous album, this one sort of went back to the basics. It contained less flashy rhythms, yet the lyrics were more affective and relatable. With this album, Keane definitely hit the right note.
Needless to say, the band had gone way far since the days of “Somewhere Only We Know”. If you’re still stuck on that era, I highly suggest you start listening to their newer albums. Keane is a rarity in the music scene these days. As the years go by, they have proved to be very capable of reinventing and improving their musicality with their experiments with various instruments. With a more mature perception on the balance of songwriting and sound, Keane just gets better and better. It might just be me, but I dare say Strangeland is the best album they had released. When I listened to it, I knew I just had to see them live. Well, a wondrous twist of fate is about to bring them here in a few weeks’ time. Don’t miss out on one grand musical experience.
Tickets are available at http://smtickets.com or you may call 470 2222
VIP A (1ST 10 ROWS) Reserved Seats P6,340
VIP B Reserved Seats P4,760
PATRON Reserved Seats P4,760
LOWER BOX Reserved Seats P3,170
UPPER BOX Reserved Seats P1,590
GENERAL ADM Free Seating P740