The casual radio listeners could be forgiven for thinking that Keane’s recorded output stopped after "This Is The Last Time", as none of their subsequent singles have been a fixture on any radio playlists since then.
So I was pleasantly surprised to hear their most recent single, "Stop For A Minute" getting regular airplay on my local radio station recently. Keane have been away for a while, but they’ve been working hard on new material and been prolific enough to release this mini-album as a stopgap between "Perfect Symmetry" and their fourth full album.
Keane’s critical acclaim for "Perfect Symmetry" didn’t quite translate into commercial success as it seemed the fickle British record buying public had moved on. The band do however have a loyal fanbase who put "Night Train" into the top 10 albums on its release, although the state of the British singles chart suggests that a band like Keane will probably never make the top 20 singles chart again. So it was no surprise that despite the airplay, "Stop For A Minute" failed to chart.
"Night Train" is further proof that Keane are one of this country’s best bands - although remain extremely underrated following the initial hysteria of their debut album "Hopes and Fears" which for me remains their best work. However they continue to musically develop and explore new musical styles.
"Back In Time", which follows a short instrumental intro track, sees Keane in more familiar territory, then the aforementioned "Stop for a Minute" has a guest appearance from rapper K’naan, who’s currently burning up the worldwide charts with that great little World Cup song "Wavin’ Flag".
"Clear Skies" is a more acoustic flavoured song which is well worth a listen.
If a second single is to be released off the album (although I doubt this - I could be wrong though?), "Your Love" would be a great choice. This is a major departure for the band as it features Tim Rice-Oxley on vocals (did I ever tell you that I had a minor crush on Mr Rice-Oxley??) - he’s not just a pretty face but a talented songwriter and rather good singer too. When you have such a great vocalist as Tom Chaplin it could be quite intimidating stepping out into the spotlight, but Tim does it with some style. You can see why there are some well-documented ‘power struggles’ within the band.
"Looking Back" er, ‘borrows’ from the Rocky theme. Another track which features K’naan. I’m not sure if Keane and rapping works, but they seemed to enjoy it. "Ishin Denshin" is a bit strange, and closer "My Shadow" is a U2-style building ballad, but I wouldn’t be too bothered if I heard it again.
"Night Train" may be a little patchy in places, but it proves yet again that Keane have a lot of life left in them yet, and it's enough to keep the fans happy until the next album comes along.