It didn't take too long for the Keane backlash to happen. After they'd struck gold with their 2004 debut Hopes and Fears - an album that brought them immediate adulation thanks to a clutch of enjoyable singles and (gasp!) the fact that there was nary a guitar in sight - an innocuous follow-up, Under the Iron Sea, brought the British trio back to Earth with a bang. Sure, it may have sold millions and reached #1 all over the world, but their departure from the piano-driven pop songs that they'd established their names with meant disappointment abounded from some quarters.
Indeed, by their own admission, Keane are a band easy to hate. They're a little bit wet, they're probably the most uncool band on the planet at the moment, and lead singer Tom Chaplin's admission that he had developed a drug problem during Under the Iron Sea's recording drew ridicule from the likes of 'real' rock stars like Noel Gallagher. Naysayers may be disappointed to hear, however, that Perfect Symmetry is actually a step forward for the piano-popsters. Well, the first four tracks are, at least: funky '80s party track Spiralling sounds more like Kool and the Gang than a band who once sang about being 'Bedshaped'; The Lovers Are Losing is a retro synth-pop number reminiscent of Hall & Oates; Better Than This proffers a jerky, Talk Talk-esque groove, while the fuzzy, taut futuristic bustle of You Haven't Told Me Anything insinuates a devotion to Depeche Mode.
Once Keane discard their '80s influences, however, it's back to the same old boring ballad formula for the album's remainder - the wispy, ambient blaze of Playing Along providing the only respite from the pedestrian pace. Still, though, those four tracks… perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, there may still be time for Keane to redeem themselves.