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    Hopes And Fears 8 ( 2004 )
    Somewhere Only We Know / Bend And Break / We Might As Well Be Strangers / Everybody's Changing / Your Eyes Open / She Has No Time / Can't Stop Now / Sunshine / This Is The Last Time / On A Day Like Today / Untitled 1 / Bedshaped

    I have no idea how long Keane will be able to remain popular with the critics, because their sound is so stylised. The band members hardly come across as very rock n roll either, main musical man Tim Rice-Oxley is the kind of guy that makes Coldplay seem dangerous. Ah yes, the Coldplay comparisons. Because, you know, Coldplay have done a couple of songs that feature piano, right? They've done those mid-tempo, classy ballads touched with just the right amount of melancholy to remain the right side of cheerful? Well, yes. In truth, the Coldplay comparison, although present in the music of Keane to an extent, pales next to the 'Bends' era Radiohead comparison. Or indeed, a song such as 'No Surprises' from the classic 'OK Computer'. 'Everybody's Changing' has been released by Keane as a very successful single, for example. The feel of the song is very akin to 'No Surprises' by Radiohead. It's a comparison far more accurate than any lazy Coldplay comparisons. Either comparison is rendered slightly defunct by the fact that Keane don't have a guitarist present in their line-up. Piano is used as lead instrument, some songs do feature keyboards and bass in addition to the percussion and drums, yet three piece Keane remain defiantly piano led. How can a rather posh looking band with well crafted polite songs, be defiant? Well, the fact they use a piano rather than a lead guitar gives them a slightly distinctive sound. In a day and age where it's difficult to stand out, Keane have managed to stand out. Well, if not, then at least manage to get their hands in the air above the swarming crowd of mediocrity stood in front of them.

    'Hopes And Fears' isn't an album that will change your life. Ultimately, it lacks enough variety to be a certified classic. Yet, the finest moments here really do point towards something very special happening one or two albums down the line. 'Somewhere Only We Know' is very anthemic, 'This Is The Last Time' uptempo and catchy enough to be a future hit single. Songs here that try to stray away from the already trademark Keane sound include the interestingly atmospheric and keyboard/bass led 'Untitled 1' and also the moody and actually quite brilliant 'Sunshine'. 'Sunshine' in fact includes gorgeous echo on the doubled-tracked lead. A slight delay, studio trickery, or is it in fact a harmony vocal in the mix?? Whatever they've done, 'Sunshine' is stunning and suitably summery and a perfect relaxed pop song that still manages to send chills all through you. Honestly, it's something special. It's also a song, that despite my comments ( and fears ) earlier, that Keane may remain stuck in a rut stylistically - that perhaps they do indeed have the potential to move in different directions in the future. We shall see. What's important for now is the fact that 'Hopes And Fears' is a debut album that shall be remembered.

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    From Daryl Lovell classy_grunger@hotmail.com
    All Keane are really is a band with cliche lyrics and a singer who has the singing skill of thom yorke without the charismatic voice. Personally if i had my way there would be a lot less bands like Keane and (yes!)Coldplay as they are nothing new nor are they taking their genre any further great site though!

    Raf arzenal@hotmail.com
    Kean is a different band.They are poppish rock but with a good sound.They are completely different from coldplay and radioHEAD.Only thing lacks in the album is weak lyrics.But it is all in all a very good debut and u should not be hard on them.
    From Laura rbamb@cox.net
    From Raf arzenal@hotmail.com
    if i could quote the great barney hoskins, from last months review of rufus wainwright's want two album from uncut magazine-"supporting keane on their upcoming tour is something of gamble. im not saying he'll be bottled off, but the whole point about keane is that they provide ersatz jeff buckley emotion for students who wouldn't know real beauty or feeling if it came in alcopop bottles.

    top of page Under The Iron Sea 7 ( 2006 )
    Atlantic / Is It Any Wonder / Nothing In My Way / Leaving So Soon / A Bad Dream / Hamburg Song / Put It Behind You / Iron Sea / Crystal Ball / Try Again / Broken Toy / The Frog Prince

    Aren't effects pedals great? Keane clearly think so, a variety of sounds are changed and twisted and wrung out in an attempt at giving Keane a musical backdrop with more layers and depth. Lyrically, we've some vague nautical imagery across several of the albums songs and a general, slighter darker feel to the album overall than 'Hopes And Fears' presented us with. The layers and attempts at thickening and making Keane's trademark sound a little more muscular is only half successful. The album loses any semblance of having a natural, organic sound and gives off the impression weaker material is being beefed up by dint of production trickery and slight of hand. Which isn't to say 'Under The Iron Sea' isn't a worthy album, because it certainly is. It's repeat playable and the thicker, more layered sound does indeed increase the depth of the album, it's a grower over time. Catchy tunes over time? Well, a few here and there. Elsewhere, tunes appear epic and wash over you and send you into dream-states. Keane aren't very rock n roll and probably never will be, but they do create a nice noise in places. I'd probably prefer them more stripped back myself, more organic and perhaps taking a jazz approach to recording their three instruments plus voice. We can't have everything though, which in Keane's situation, is just as well. They lack instrumental prowess and quite enough imagination. This is clear on the opening track, 'Atlantic' which resembles 'Planet Telex' or 'Airbag' by Radiohead. Yet, 'Atlantic' doesn't pack enough of a melodic punch, the atmosphere isn't quite enough or unusual enough. The washes of keyboards and electronic sounds merge with the vocals and suddenly make me wish that Keane would listen to Progressive Rock or something. Anything to inject a little unusual excitement. So, invention probably isn't Keane's strong-point? No, it isn't, but they can still pen a decent pop-tune. 'Is It Any Wonder' is a sparkling pop tune of the highest order that beats anything from the debut into a cocked hat, thank you very much.

    Highlights? 'Hamburg' is a beautiful ballad reducing Keane to singer+piano, pretty much. A solo career beckons? Possibly, perhaps Tim Rice Oxley will become the new Elton John. Then again, good old Elton used to be actually interesting back in the 70s. If the 00s are Keane's 70s, heaven knows what they'll sound like in twenty years time. Like Barry Manilow, probably. Anyways, sorry. I was going off on one slightly there, wasn't I? What else then? Well, 'Broken Toy' is a great track, starts off all bass and Radiohead, aka 'Kid A' only without the electronics. The vocals are pure and clear and sent forth into huge mountain ranges to resonate around them. If that makes sense? Certainly a voice and sound designed for stadiums, without actually being very loud. Any more highlights? Probably not, actually. It's weird, the album doesn't have a single bad track, yet everything merges together in the end. For all the attempts at giving Keane a sound with more layers and interest, 'Under The Iron Sea' contains less variety than 'Hopes And Fears' did. The production is very much of its time, I do fear this will be seen as a very dated sounding record ten years from now. Yet, credit where credit is due. Keane have done at least part of what they needed to do, not make 'Hopes And Fears' part 2. The real litmus test will be their third album. Critically and commercially, the third Keane album really will be make or break. For now, a '7' is enough for this album. More than enough possibly, but then again, i'm feeling kind today.

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    From JIM JOHNSTON georgejohnston@hotmail.com
    I have been listening to this album constantly, it is brilliant. I actually wasn't that keen on their first album. This album works on 2 levels, the atmospheric music throughout, and the individual songs. The way the instrumental "Iron Sea" flows into "Crystal Ball" is magnificent!! Not a duff song on the album, not sure if I will be listening to it in 10 years, but for now, 9/10.
    From Picnz p_i_c_n_z@yahoo.com
    An album, my son bought me several months back( he has regretted it ever since), I played it once and tossed on the c/d rack. felt ripped off, after Hopes and Fears Iron Sea initially didn't do it for me, then I read somewhere that Keane were just about on the rocks and completing this album was quite difficult. Back to the c/d rack for a 2nd airing, my mood was receptive to this epic anthem album and bing, I was hooked. It has become a theme album for this years arduous tasks. Simply ask yourself which track would you have ten thousand fans at Wembley sing? picnz (56yr, )
    From Alan Zaccone sourcery@sbcglobal.net
    I like Atlantic an awful lot. The keyboards are very pretty and somewhat surreal, which, I know, is an overused word these days. We need a new word. Nautical, you used. I like that. Atlantic is very "nautical". Overall, a good album, but they need something more. Perhaps more instruments. I know, they're "basic", but some different sounds here and there would be nice. Radiohead started off with the essentials and by their third album (which turned out to be one of the best albums of all time), they were awash in background noises, bells, triangles, computers, violins played weirdly, so on and so forth. If Keane manages to produce an OK Computer then I will cry tears of joy, but I see, in their future, a failed third album that attempts to cash in on the glossy, sunflowers-and-whipped-cream musical craze of the mid-00's.
    From Andy andrew@andrewtaylor7.wanadoo.co.uk
    I went to see Keane live in Feb 07 and they were great. Iron sea is a fantastic follow up to hopes and fears. The best two tracks on hopes and fears for me are Bend & Break and Bedshaped, but I am hard pushed to pick a favorite from this current album. All the tracks are very listenable and personally I can't wait for the third album if it shows the same improvement that iron sea has over hopes & fears

    top of page Perfect Symmetry 6 ( 2008 )
    Spiralling / The Lovers Are Losing / Better Than This / You Haven't Told Me Anything / Perfect Symmetry / You Don't See Me / Again & Again / Playing Along / Pretend That You're Alone / Black Burning Heart / Love Is The End

    Keane rediscover their 'pop'?

    A lot of indie type bands have recently dug back to 80s pop thrills in order to refresh themselves. Well, Mystery Jets did it with quite some aplomb. Keane do it and sound exactly the same as they always did. Why yes, we do have some electronic beats but it just sounds like they've written a bunch of songs the same way they always did, eg, voice and piano then re-recorded those musical parts using protools and other 'modern' pieces of software. Like their semi-cousins Coldplay, what Keane really need is Brian Eno producing them. Erm, ok. Wrong producer, that didn't exactly propel Coldplay towards their best album either, did it? That's the rub you see, if the songs aren't there, no amount of clever production and 'new modern sounds! now!' are going to help you overcome such a fatal flaw. Lead single 'Spiralling' is happily a handsome exception to the rule. 'Spiralling' opens with a loud explosion of a drum sound, like The Bee Gees 'You Win Again'. The lyrics are about as interesting as Keane lyrics probably can be and the chorus is catchy in the way that a good Mystery Jets single manages to be. High praise from the Denning household, indeed.

    Interesting things to mention on a new Keane album? I need to be more precise, don't I? Right, 'You Haven't Told Me Anything' is almost neat but could have been improved. They have two synth lines to open, one playing the 'distinctive catchy introduction' ( copyright The Beatles ) the other playing an almost Aphex Twin ambient part. Solution to make Keane more interesting? Ditch the distinctive Beatles type introduction and lead us in more interesting ambient waters instead. Once the song proper begins, it screams out b-side, although as far as 'Perfect Symmetry' is concerned, this is still one of the better songs on the album. 'Black Burning Heart' for example as an intro that makes one wish an Ultravox song was about to start, rather than a standard Keane parent pleasing politeness. Oh, I know they manage to rhyme 'back' with 'crack', but that must have just slipped through. We do have 'Better Than This' on a more positive note that manages to work in some sneaky Gary Numan type noises before not descending into base formula, rather it ascends into some catchy 80s influenced number. Deserves to be a big hit, methinks.

    Add A Comment?

    From Jane Lynch Nottingham
    I cannot believe that you don't love it! Its an album full of energy and vibrancy, and the lyrics are simply fantastic. Perfect Symmetry the song literally has me in tears. A definite 10/10.
    From Alexander Fisken London
    That is completely unfair, its Keane's best album yet and a lot better than a lot of the rubbish (Oasis, Bloc Party) that you've been giving high scores to recently. Maybe it is the traditional Keane formula, nothing wrong with that in my opinion, two number 1 albums, many sold out tours.... quite a successful formula methinks, and this album was again number 1, will again lead to sold out major shows. I regret to see that it seems you have taken the lead from other critics and started Keane bashing for no particular or coherent reason, its a shame.
    this page last updated 28/12/08

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