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Keith: Vice And Virtue

Vice & Virtue: two sides of a coin, two opposite approaches to life, and the inspiration behind the latest album from Manchester’s best-kept secret, Keith.

The follow-up to the band’s 2006 debut Red Thread, Vice & Virtue finds Keith creating a vast sonic playground. But for all the experimental and cerebral moments, there’s no slacking off in their commitment to melody and groove. It’s an album for both sides of the brain  the intellectual and visceral, the artistic and the mathematic. It’s eclectic but reigned in, and it’s the album that Keith have long had the potential to deliver.

The beauty and the curse of this band is that it is so schizophrenic in its tastes, but we’ve managed to form a recipe that really works musically,” says singer Oli Bayston.

We’ve never followed a trend,” deadpans bassist John Waddington. “We can’t agree on one to follow.”

Vice & Virtue unites Keith with Dan Carey, the production wunderkind behind Franz Ferdinand’s latest album. The band looked to Carey to help realise their idea for a darker, more psychedelic, more unified palette, and that’s exactly what he did, through whip-smart editing, electronic flourishes and a newly invigorated sound.

In keeping with the album’s schizophrenic title the songs on Vice & Virtue vary between escapist love songs, each written with what Bayston describes as “a desire to create the most noble lyrics possible,” to growling, groove-driven beasts. It’s a combination that’s set to launch Keith to the mainstream audience they narrowly missed with Red Thread.

Now, the stage is set for Keith to take their rightful place in the nation’s record collection, striking a victory for intransient music, musicianship and, most of all, the power of a solid groove.

We’ve seen a lot of bands come out of Manchester recently playing anthemic, singalong songs that are easily to grab a hold of lyrically,” says Bayston. “I want our stuff to be recognised for the opposite of that.”

Currently, the foursome are recording in a Salford church, with an aim to produce a series of extra tracks with a warm, organic feel that’s at odds with the electronic album. Like Vice & Virtue’s songs and message, it’s all about contrasts.

Music itself can be a vice or a virtue – it can be an addiction, the same as any relationship,” says Bayston.

And as frontman of the most furiously creative band in Manchester, he, of all people, should know.