Keane - The Best of Keane (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
TEN years ago, Keane burst onto the music scene with their debut album Hopes & Fears and its signature singles Somewhere Only We Know, Bedshaped and This Is The Last Time.
Since then, they’ve not looked back, going on to sell over 11 million albums, winnning two Brit Awards, four Q Awards and an Ivor Novello and capturing the hearts of a truly global fan base (they’ve played over 700 shows in over 40 countries world-wide).
In May 2008, both Hopes and Fears and Under The Iron Sea were voted by readers of Q magazine as the best British albums ever, while earlier this year, Hopes And Fears was voted the second favourite album of all-time by Radio 2 listeners.
If latter day albums have sometimes struggled to match those high standards (IndieLondon awarded both 5 out of 5), Keane have always managed to be regarded among Britain’s top bands, not least for the way in which they continually embraced technology, becoming the first band to release music on USB sticks and the first to stream a live performance in 3D.
They’ve also collaborated with everyone from Irvine Welsh to Bret Easton Ellis to Lily Allen to William Boyd and most recently J.A Bayona and Sergio G Sanchez.
This Best Of compilation is a fitting reminder of the quality of their work thus far. It comes in a variety of formats, all of which feature 18 fan favourites and two powerful new songs, Higher Than The Sun and Won’t Be Broken.
The Deluxe version of the album will also include a collection of the band’s exceptionally strong B-sides, while the super deluxe edition contains the two discs from the deluxe edition (The Best Of and B-sides) and an exclusive DVD of a special acoustic set, for which the set-list has been chosen by Keane fans.
Of the two new songs, Higher Than The Sun is a particularly strong addition to the Keane back catalogue. Tom Chaplin’s vocals remain typically reassuring, building towards a grand, euphoric, sweeping chorus that’s tailor-made for getting those arms waving in the air during live moments. It’s a warm song in so many ways.
Elsewhere, the classic moments almost effortlessly pick themselves. Bend And Break, with its headrush electronics and choirboy vocals, retains an instant accessibility and appeal while still managing to sound fresh (likewise Everybody’s Changing), while Bedshaped remains one of the best ballads ever written, not least for the way in which it classily builds towards its powerful finale.
From Under The Iron Sea, Is It Any Wonder? is another standout, not least for the way in which it makes the most of Tim Rice-Oxley’s outstanding ability on the keyboards – in this case, the CP70 electric piano has been channelled into a plethora of effects pedals, thereby warping the conventional sound and almost making it sound like a guitar.
While Nothing In My Way is trademark Keane – a piano-driven indie ballad that effortlessly expands their majestic form of epic-indie.
Moving onto the Perfect Symmetry era, Spiralling is a rousing crowdpleaser with kick-ass beats and chorus (we can even forgive the rap), while its title track effortlessly juxtaposed some tragic lyrics with a defiant sense of grandeur. For my money, they should have included Better Than This from that album, as it’s a Queen influenced riot and another of Keane’s very best songs.
No matter, there’s also the stirring A Bad Dream (another slow-builder of majestic beauty) and – from Strangeland – Silenced By The Night, which has an energy and an emotional impact that’s hard not to get behind (as well as a vaguely Hall & Oates feel), and Disconnected, which again marries catchy melodies with a shimmering, sing-along chorus.
In fact, there’s so much to enjoy that this has to rate as a damn near essential collection for anyone who hasn’t already become acquainted with them.
Watch the video for Higher Than The Sun:
Download picks: Higher Than The Sun, Bedshaped, Bend & Break, Is It Any Wonder?, Nothing In My Way, Crystal Ball, A Bad Dream, Silenced By The Night, Disconnected