Previewing a track in its raw form years ahead of the release of the track’s official studio version can be a “double-edged” sword. One one hand, it serves as a tool for building anticipation of a band’s next album as well as the track’s official studio version well in advance. On the flipside, its familiarity with fans in the interceding period between its first preview and the album’s release can anchor the expectations of the band’s fans. More importantly, deviations from these expectations run the risk of disappointing some fans. This just might be the case with the next single of British piano-driven rock band Keane. Fortunately, any potential disappointment is eclipsed by the sheer brilliance of the song.
In 2010, Keane released their 8-track EP titled “Night Train”. The EP marked Keane’s second flirtation with mainstream pop and become the impetus for a summer tour that took the band on a concert tour that spanned various cities in the US. During a few of the shows, the band played a new track titled “Disconnected”. Lead singer Tom Chaplin described the song as being a little “rough around the edges”. The truth is, the song came as close to perfection as it possibly could. The switch from the verse (sung in a lower register) to the heart-wrenching chorus is dramatic and showcases lead singer Tom Chaplin’s vocals as he sings his heart out about a “connection” that has been lost with another person. He evokes the emotion many of us may have felt when certain relationships in our lives end up in an unforeseeable disintegration making us wonder if we knew the other person at all. It is an emotion that has us questioning and re-examining seemingly solidified notions of that other person. Plenty of songs have been written about break-ups and disappointment in love but rarely do they capture the internal confusion many of us may have felt when a relationship has met its unforeseeable end. The only other track that comes to mind is “Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz.
The differences between the new studio version of “Disconnected” and the original live version played back in 2010 are as follows:
a. The chorus features vocal harmonies in parts as opposed to Tom Chaplin’s solo vocal. Whether or not this dilutes Tom’s vocals is debatable.
b. The string arrangement prior to the song’s Middle 8 appears more minimalistic – in that there is absolutely no accompanying percussion. Hence, the transition to this section might feel a little forced and abrupt compared to what some of us may have heard in the live version of the song played back in 2010. This is somewhat surprising given than it is usually the live version of a song that features section that seem more minimalistic relative to the studio version.
c. In contrast to the string arrangement mentioned earlier, the song might also come across as being somewhat overproduced.
d. Last, but not least, the string arrangement heard at the beginning of the live version is not on this album version of the track – which is a shame.
That being said, these differences do not overshadow the beautiful core of the song in any way. “Disconnected” reaffirms songwriter Tim Rice Oxley’s gift for penning tracks that are original while giving us the same familiar sense of emotional connection that many great pop songs do. I use the term “emotional connection” as opposed to exhilaration because of the melancholic undertone that permeates through every second of the song. In fact, it is safe to say that this song just might be the soundtrack to my melancholic moments. Last, but not least, here is the great studio version of Keane’s “Disconnected”.
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