Keane's "Night Train" sounds like a record the British trio had to make to get some musical urges out of their system. Listening to this album, it seems that after producing some of pop's most gorgeous ballads ever, the group wanted to let loose, let their hair down and have some fun with it.
The result is a very diverse pop record that is a classy, accomplished blend of musical styles, global rhythms and exciting new soundscapes - ranging from '80s flavored electro-pop to energetic acoustic rock to their signature pop balladry. Following the excellent "Perfect Symmetry," this new effort demonstrates once again that Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice Oxley and Richard Hughes are able to keep their new music fresh and invigorated while always presenting a sound that is undeniable their own.
To be released in the U.S. on May 11, the album also includes Somali rapper K'Naan and Japanese baile funk emcee Tigarah who add a distinct global flavor to "Night Train." Pretty fitting as most of this record was written and recorded while the group was touring across the globe last year. Here a quick run-down of the album's 8 tracks that make up Keane's fourth studio album:
A throbbing, mid-tempo '80s flavored synth-pop gem that features the rare lead vocals of Tim Rice-Oxley. At first his voice took me off guard as his style and vocal inflection is very similar to Tom Chaplin's, but his vocals are smoother, slicker. Reminiscent of A-ha's Morten Harket. Gorgeous, sparkly chorus and an epic middle eight that sent chills up my spine. Very good and a track that clearly echoes the melodic sentiments of "Hopes & Fears." This is one of my favorite tracks on "Night Train" and will certainly be a fan favorite as well.
Stop For Minute
This celebratory track features the much-anticipated collaboration with Somali rapper K'Naan. The song is unmistakable a Keane production though with its instantly catchy piano-driven melody. K'Naan duets with Tom in the verses and chorus of the song, and lays down some rhymes during the bridge towards the end of the song. "Stop For Minute" packs a powerful, positive message and has a great singalong chorus.
Third track on the album is a signature Keane ballad that primarily relies on Tim's pacing piano work and Tom's angelic vocals. A great reminder of why Keane is a world-class band. So beautiful. "Shine a light on me and you will see my shadow on every wall," Tom sings.
Fun, brassy tune with a stomping horn section. Has a bit of bossa nova flavor to it. Would not be surprised if the guys wrote this during their South American tour dates. K'Naan adds a few of his raps, which is unexpected but totally works.
Ishin Denshin (You've Got To Help Yourself)
A very joyous electro-pop cover of the Yellow Magic Orchestra song that features Japanese baile funk MC Tigarah. This song was a truly international endeavor. Tim worked on the original idea on a plane, Richard recorded the drums in D.C., Tom did his vocals in Copenhagen, Tigarah did hers in L.A. and the group finished it off on a tour bus. I must say that the result feels a little disjointed - Tigarah's vocals don't gel all that well with Tom's.
Brief atmospheric interlude without vocals. Has a great cinematic quality to it.
This song features Keane like you rarely hear them. Song starts off acoustically with handclaps, guitars and Tom's vocals, which gradually build to the chorus when drums, bass and xylophone are added. This is a really fun experimentation with different instruments that works well and continues to grow on me the more I hear it. You can hear how bands like Radiohead and Blur inspired this track.
Back In Time
The tracks opens with frantic, jagged synths much like the opening of "Is It Any Wonder" that is repeated in the chorus. "Back In Time" is how Keane does rock and roll.