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Keane – Perfect Symmetry

October 23, 2008
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I became a fan of Keane the first time I heard them live, opening for U2 during the Atomic Bomb tour (side note: Bono’s Recent Speech). The combination of guitarless, piano driven music, soaring vocals, and reflective lyrics makes Keane a unique band. Although Hopes and Fears is their best known album. Under the Iron Sea was a great follow up, featuring some great songs like “Crystal Ball”, “Frog Prince”, “Hamburg Song”. With the release of their latest album Perfect Symmetry, Keane has reworked their sound considerably.

Perfect Symmetry is like Keane meets Culture Club, a real 80s throw back sound. These guys are, after all, children of the 80s. At first I didn’t like it; I love the old, classy Keane, but I haven’t take PS out of my cd player in a week. The first half of the album contains the synthesized sound that smacks of the 80s, but the second half of the album is like the old Keane. There’s no doubt they had fun making this album.

My son loves what he calls “The Monkey Song” also known as “Pretend that You’re Alone.” It’s a song about the ramifications of biological and social darwinism. Tom ties Darwinism to the selfish gene in the following lyric:

We are just the monkeys who fell out of the trees
We are blisters on the earth
And we are not the flowers, we’re the strangling weeds in the meadow
And love is just our way of looking out for ourselves
When we don’t want to live alone
So step into the vacuum, tear off your clothes and be born again

If we are just monkeys that fell out of the trees, then love is simply an emotion, a biological secretion designed for self-protection. Surround yourself with people who “love” you enough to protect you. Of course, this often backfires because our selfish love is more selfish that we could ever imagine. Darwinism empties love of any virtue. Makes you long for an absolute Love.

The rest of the album is scattered with lyrically reflective, poppy 80s tunes. A thought provoking combination. After all, the ideas and experiences Tom Chaplin kicks around are far from pop in substance. Hope you pick it up and enjoy it.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sara permalink
    October 23, 2008 8:25 pm

    I don’t know Keane well but your review makes me want to explore. They’re not a Christian band at all, is that right? But those lyrics seem dead-on

  2. Jeff permalink
    October 24, 2008 3:52 pm

    I will have to check it out. The eighties sound kind of pushed me away from purchasing it. I’m excited about the new Ryan Adams album that’s coming out this next Tuesday, but I’m not sure how reflective it will be.

  3. October 24, 2008 9:06 pm

    No, not Xn and it’s hard to tell whether they are being cynical or supportive of social darwinism.

  4. Sara permalink
    October 25, 2008 12:32 pm

    thanks, yeah, whenever themes like that pop up in music I oft don’t know how to interpret

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