Keane - Hopes And Fears
Keane - genuine anti-rock idols changing the phase of popular rock and roll by ditching the guitar in a kind of reverse Dylan goes electric scenario....or the most boring band to grace the face of the UK since the words Coldplay and Travis fell of our lips. The truth of course is never that clear cut, never that black and white, and hence "Hopes And Fears" is an album that straddles both opposing thesis' but still manages to appeal to the sort of person who drinks cafe lates, watches reality TV incessantly and maybe indulges in extreme sport at the weekend just to retain that "out there" edge man.
What you can't fault Keane for is an absolute knack for knocking out beautiful melodies even if the production on them does wash out any trace of excitement. What were hearing now on record is not the Keane we heard nearly 12 months ago in a beer stained sweat pit of a venue. "Bend And Break" is a perfect example of the smoothing off of Keane's edges, Tom Chaplin's vocals are polished into an inch of their life and there's none of the breathless yearning that's on display on the live shows. Similarly fantastically named Tim Rice-Oxley tickles the ivories rather than pummelling then and the whole shiny production is what Keane detractors are actually attacking rather than the songs themselves. Where Keane really hit the mark on is "We Might As Well Be Strangers", a song which does follow the obvious template of "Bends" era Radiohead or Coldplay, but manages to actually instil in 4 minutes a genuine heartbreak and emotion even if the lyrics are 6th form at best. "Everything Changes" is the song that kicked it off for them back in the Fierce Panda days and it is a genuine rush to the head, the subtle flourishes of electronica bringing to mind the Happy Monday's "Loose Fit" at the strangest of moments.
"Your Eyes Open" suggests one of those classic lost ITV Dramas starring Christopher Eccleston with the lead role staring into the sky in despair before running into the distance after some lost love. There's a strangely epic come minimalistic, almost Angelo Badalimenti does Twin Peaks, style vibe to the whole proceedings yet wrapped up in a luscious pop format. "Sunshine" recalls the spirit of the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" and you almost expect the song to segue into "God Only Knows". "This Is The Last Time" is yet another song which should shine, but is let down by the production and strict Keane format. It's aching out to have a full blown orchestra with flourishes of brass while a gospel choir join in for the chorus...it's got big ambitions but a lacklustre delivery.
Keane are a band who are neither devil incarnate nor the saviours of British music. Neither are they the next Coldplay. Strangely enough the band conform to a strict conservatism as displayed by late 80s bands such as Hue & Cry and Johnny Hates Jazz and that's meant as a compliment rather than a negative. With the right producer behind them and a loosening of the idea of what makes Keane Keane this could have been a brilliant album. What were left with is an ok album, but a promise that if they rip up the template they could really shine
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