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Keane Captures Its Pop Essence on New Album "Strangeland" [Exclusive Interview]

After 2008's "Perfect Symmetry" and 2010's experimental "Night Train" EP, Keane returned this week with their much-anticipated fourth studio album, "Strangeland." Musically, it's a record that echoes the intensely melodic pop of their debut LP "Hopes & Fears" with a cohesive collection of songs that stir the soul and heal the heart. 

Tom Chaplin of Keane is excited to talk about this new LP. "Everyone is so refreshed and excited about the new songs," the group's frontman tells me in an exclusive interview. "We all want to get out there and push it to make sure that as many people get to hear it as possible. I'm in a good place mentally. It's lovely to have this record."

The creative journey that led to the recording of "Strangeland" was very different than the process behind some of their previous efforts. Much of that was sparked by the addition of bassist Jesse Quin to the group's line up. "It was a very different process than 'Perfect Symmetry' where it was all about layering sounds with a lot of emphasis on production," Chaplin explains. "I think we wanted to really capture the sound of the band [on 'Strangeland']."

"The pre-production of this album was a good 6 months where we just played the songs before we recorded anything," Chaplin explains. "With this new record we wanted to develop an atmosphere and shape, and record many, many songs to put together a few that would fit well together." 

Chaplin smiles and adds, "I remember reading about how the guys from Abba would lock themselves in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere in Sweden and write hundreds of songs. Only the very best ones would make it through to the very end. I think that's the process that Tim [Rice-Oxley] went through writing this album. Much like when he wrote the songs for 'Hopes & Fears.'" 

One of Chaplin's favorite songs on "Strangeland" is the track "In Your Own Time." "It is not a song on the album that's immediately striking," the singer shares."I remember that when Tim first played it to me I said, 'I like it but I'm not sure about the chorus.' A few months down the line I sat on the train listening to some of the demos and I heard the original demo of the song. It suddenly struck me that the chorus didn't need to be changed at all. It was a mightily fine song."

"It was real tear-jerking moment. I actually sat there and wept a tear," he confides.

It's proof that Keane's soaring melodic balladry has the power to deeply move people. "The connection that people make with our music is very much an emotional one," Chaplin agrees. "It's about a song reaching a part of you that you've been trying to explain or that has been stuck inside you emotionally, and the song knows how to unlock it. That's Tim's great skill as a songwriter."

"Our songs are also very anthemic and entrenched in great melody and I think that's what people love as well. They can let their hair down and sing their hearts out. I guess there's a fair amount of things going for us," Chaplin smiles and concludes. (Download Keane "Strangeland" on iTunes.)

May 10, 2012 | Permalink