Keane’s synth-infused effort is lacking

Keane
“Perfect Symmetry”
2.5 stars out of 5

If it was any band but Keane that released this album, perhaps all the electronics and ’80s throwback synthesizers of “Perfect Symmetry” wouldn’t feel so strange. As it is, the band that perfected piano rock melodicism on their previous chart-topping albums has opted for a drastic change.

This could be Keane’s way of keeping critics from making Coldplay comparisons as was often done after their debut. While a change in style can be a great way to keep a band’s sound fresh, the decision to record a retro album seems like a gimmick. On many of the songs, the style feels forced and self-indulgent.

This is Keane after all, and few bands can create melodies like they do, even if they do get buried under synth-induced melodrama. The song “You Don’t See Me,” for example, is vintage Keane, using synth effectively while maintaining the emotion listeners have come to expect.

All together, “Perfect Symmetry” is a decent experiment that hits and misses, but not much more than that.

Key Tracks: “Spiralling,” “You Don’t See Me”

The Knux
“Remind Me in 3 Days”
4 stars out of 5

The Knux just might be the future of hip hop, if the future is in rock and old-school stylings.

New Orleans brothers Rah Al Millo and Krispy Kream favor retro beats and some guitar over typical 2008 hip hop arrangements, making for a fresh, engaging listen. Their debut, “Remind Me in 3 Days,” doesn’t have many guest spots or sampling – the focus is on their rhymes. Fortunately, they have a lot to say.

Whether it’s girls, their hometown or a cup of coffee, this duo seems to always pull unexpected topics out of thin air. Their style is solid and could potentially be great after a few albums of growth. On top of solid production, the duo brings some irresistible, Outkast-style crossover hooks that hint at possible Top-40 success. Whether lead single “Bang Bang” makes it to mainstream radio or the group turns into yet another forgotten major-label act remains to be seen, but the Knux are set to rival such greats as the Cool Kids’ original alternative rap very soon.

Key Tracks: “Bang Bang,” “Lights, Camera, Action,” “The True”