Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Keane and Snow Patrol; Old Stars

It's been a while since Perfect Symmetry and A Hundred Million Suns came out in the States, but I've been keeping myself busy. A few weeks of impressive success in mock trial, a few days of stuffing myself with far too much food, and an afternoon of stunning Georgia Tech victory (how 'bout them dawgs?).

Review: Perfect Symmetry, Keane

I could tell you "okay, listen to this album, then go back and listen to 'Spiralling' again" but that would be wholly redundant, because you'd already be doing it. It's tough to give a positive review to an album based on one track alone, but I'm on the verge of being able to do that with Perfect Symmetry. It's the rare track that you can listen to over and over again and not get tired of, because it's so much fun. Excellent production, catchy, and not entirely vapid lyrically, if you're into that sort of thing.

The one problem that stems from this is that Perfect Symmetry might naturally suffer from a bit of In Our Bedroom After the War syndrome: front-loading the album with the best music, so the rest doesn't seem as good by comparison. This album doesn't quite do that to the same level, but it comes close. It does, however, compare favorably to Viva La Vida, in that it is the most interesting thing that Keane has ever done. I thought Hopes and Fears was sort of okay. I wasn't a big fan of Under the Iron Sea, although I didn't per se dislike it. It was just sort of neutral.

Perfect Symmetry is not neutral. It is good music, through and through.

Review: A Hundred Million Suns, Snow Patrol

I love this one too. Snow Patrol has transcended "alternative rock" to make music that actually has some sort of soul to it, almost like Mae's The Everglow. That's not praise I'm going to hand out lightly--and I'm not about to say that A Hundred Million Suns matches Mae's masterpiece. But it's beautiful nonetheless. There's so much heartfelt niceness here that if it comes across as saccharine at times, we're perfectly willing to forgive Snow Patrol. We're willing to forgive them because it's unmistakably sincere.

There's a point at the end of them album where we're treated to "Snow Patrol does Sufjan Stevens", or at least something that sounds remarkably like it. And it works. Most of the album sounds like traditional Snow Patrol, and it works too. But though some will accuse this album of being the same thing Snow Patrol has done five times already, it's not, because of the immense amount of emotion that made its way in. It will make you feel good, albeit in a non-cutting-edge manner.

Review: Heart, Stars

To bring things full circle, and talk about Stars again, I've finally brought myself around to listen to Stars' first album, and I don't think it's that great. Too weird and electronic-y for my tastes. Then again, like I mentioned in that earlier review of In Our Bedroom Under the War, or possibly in my review of the Stars concert from March, how much you like Stars' albums probably has the most to do with the order you listen to them in. And it makes perfect sense that fans of Heart probably wouldn't like the more recent endeavors.

Specifically, that introduction is way too hipster for me. "Elevator Love Letter" is a classic, to be sure. But the album goes downhill from there and really can't hold a candle to Set Yourself on Fire.

Currently listening: "Carry on Wayward Son", Kansas

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