{grate 3}

Keane, the band that battled Coldplay for the top spot on melancholy music playlists a few years back, has reinvented itself with Perfect Symmetry. The group’s quintessentially brooding piano ballads have given way to unabashed retro synthpop — a transition that, despite sounding dubious at best, works.

Tom Chapin’s clear, bright vocals humanize the album’s super-synthetic background, helping Keane channel the ’80s while maintaining fresh rhythms and harnessing instrumental oddities.

Keane has certainly not neglected its piano-centered roots, skillfully layering acoustic keys over funkalicious bass and wound-up synthesizers. It toys around with the drum machine but generally stays true to its rock roots via drum kit and sporadic guitar (especially in “Pretend That You’re Alone,” which also features saxophone). While the album is very upbeat (almost to a fault — by the third song we’re ready to don a sideways ponytail and do dance aerobics in the living room), there are a few reminescent tracks that return to Keane’s piano-bass-drum foundation, including “You Don’t See Me” and “Playing Along,” which offer the album its necessary acoustic balance — reminding us that, yes, this really is Keane, after all.

Symmetry’s pinnacle is definitely “Black Burning Heart,” which underscores Chaplin’s impressive range by marrying a gently pressing piano with expansive electro-symphonics. And deluxe-version bonus track “Love Is the End” is a sweet and spare little love waltz not to be missed.

Solid overall — Keane’s latest foray into new territory does the ’80s justice without forgetting the roots that won them pop reverence.