Keane - Hopes and Fears

Album cover

  1. Somewhere Only We Know (3:57)
  2. Bend and Break (3:40)
  3. We Might As Well Be Strangers (3:12)
  4. Everybody's Changing (3:35)
  5. Your Eyes Open (3:22)
  6. She Has No Time (5:45)
  7. Can't Stop Now (3:38)
  8. Sunshine (4:12)
  9. This Is the Last Time (3:28)
  10. On a Day Like Today (5:26)
  11. Untitled 1 (5:36)
  12. Bedshaped (4:38)

Universal, 2004

This debut album by one of 2004's major new British bands is something of a guilty pleasure. I'm aware they are drippier than Coldplay, who in turn were drippier than Bends-era Radiohead, but these boys can write a tune or two. Their gimmick is to eschew guitars in favour of a lead piano, ending up with a sound that reminds me of Midge Ure's Ultravox (or maybe U2's "Unforgettable Fire" song). Although the tunes are uniformly strong, it's a pity that they're so samey, mostly following the same pattern of a slow, soaring chorus, backed by big piano octaves.

I forget which ones are singles, as they could have practically all have been chosen. The lyrics are mainly earnest, hand-wringing but bland stuff, except maybe for the interestingly-titled "Bedshaped". One thing that irritates me is the treatment of Tom Chaplin's vocals - the sliding effect, whatever it's called, that causes his notes to merge more smoothly into each other. It seems like this is obligatory for current pop music, and makes me feel like an old fart for wishing that they'd just present it naturally.

If you like the sound then you'll lap this up. I'm sure they've got the talent to write songs with a bigger variety of moods, but if not, then I don't see them lasting long.

October 13, 2004

6 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson