Keane

Strangeland

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Keane's fourth outing trades in the officious electro-pop flourishes that peppered 2008's Perfect Symmetry for a more familiar approach. Closer in tone to 2006's Under the Iron Sea, some may find Strangeland's reliable mix of Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and "Sit Down"-era James to be a bit rote, but when it comes to crafting relatively safe, achingly melodic, and terminally sincere adult alternative rock songs, there are few groups as prodigious as the East Sussex quartet. Bolstered by a pair of stadium-ready singles in "Disconnected" and "Silence by the Night," both of which occur (in classic LP fashion) early on, Strangeland works best when it sticks to the formula, providing a hook, a line, and a sinker before landing the listener with the kind of colossal chorus that results in the frantic rolling up or down of car windows. More contemplative moments, like the lilting "Black Rain," the lovely "Neon River," and the appropriately epic closer "Sea Fog" work just as well, dialing back the cymbal swells in favor of a more measured level of melodrama. Strangeland never really lives up to its mysterious title, as there's nothing on it that doesn’t feel willfully nostalgic, but like any good plate of comfort food (for those with larger appetites, there's a 16-track extended version, and a 24-track CD/DVD combo) it satisfies in a way that more adventurous meals never truly can.

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