The album cover is a cloudy sunset scene, every song ends in an intentionally epic fade-out, and the lyrics evoke nothing if not a slightly rugged, overtly ambitious Keane. Tallied correctly, that would normally equal three strikes. But Sakhalin, funded in part by fans on Kickstarter, is the confident, piano-pushing stuff of early-2000s road trips: a little gritty, a little placid and a lot nostalgic. Nearly three years after the quartet's debut, High Beams, was released, the guys are turned inward and tuned out, focused intently on a heightened introspection that lead singer Joel Van Horne gently stretches across six tracks of silvery promises and regrets. Sure, the guys' Coldplay ties are getting a bit old(play), but the transition here is unmistakable: The edges are blunt and the influences obvious, but the intentions are lovely. For those keeping count at home, that makes the rewards immediate.
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