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Keane - Hopes and Fears


Review: Jack Foley

KEANE would appear to be the name on everyone's lips at the moment, courtesy of the overplayed Somewhere Only We Know, and the refreshing Everybody's Changing.

Inevitable comparisons have been made with the likes of Coldplay and Travis, while some critics have even hailed the debut album as sounding as confident as Definitely Maybe - Oasis' breakthrough effort.

I have to confess that my enthusiasm for them had dimmed somewhat, following the near relentless radio play of Somewhere Only We Know, but it was reignited, quite spectacularly, from the moment I began listening to the debut album.

Hopes and Fears is one of those rare debut efforts which screams of quality in everything it does, from the simple, piano-laden melodies, to lead singer, Tom Chaplin's enticing, falsetto-tinged vocal style.

Everything fits into place perfectly, making those comparisons with the likes of Definitely Maybe, A Rush of Blood To The Head and The Man Who... not only obvious, but downright necessary.

The album kicks off with that former single, Somewhere Only We Know, which lands listeners in familiar territory from the off, before picking up the pace considerably for Bend and Break, a genuinely thrilling record, guaranteed to have you jumping around the bedroom.

The rest of the album then unfolds in suitably impressive fashion, taking in everything from innocent desires, to melancholy tales of loss and regret, without ever bringing the listener down with it.

Chaplin's vocals can be heart-breaking when they want to, but they also have the ability to conjure a tidal-wave of joy, so that listening to them never becomes a chore.

And with the sort of homely 'boy next door' looks to die for, he would appear to have the world at his feet.

What makes Keane's debut effort all the more outstanding, however, is the lack of guitars - for this Sussex-based three-piece prides itself on the lack of such an instrument.

And while this may sound a little restricting, it actually works to its advantage - helping Hopes and Fears to sound that bit different.

The pianos, synths and beats therefore become the focus and nicely side-step the danger of sounding too one-note, too retro-styled 80s, or too downbeat.

If anything, the melodies and harmonies date back to the breezy 60s, and only occasionally veer into the over-milked 80s.

Highlights, as a result, are difficult to pick out, given that there is not really a bad record to choose from.

But Everything Changes is a terrifically upbeat record, tailor-made for single success and hailed by Radio 1's Steve Lamacq as one of the best records he had heard in Fierce Panda’s entire history; while Your Eyes Open is a majestic anthem, that builds to a really sweeping chorus.

The album is probably at its absolute best during the uptempo tracks, but Chaplin and co prove themselves to be equally adept at the ballads, with the aching We Might As Well Be Strangers and She Has No Time surefire contenders for the cigarette lighter treatment when played live.

In short, this is a masterpiece.

Track listing:
1. Somewhere Only We Know
2. Bend and Break
3. We Might As Well Be Strangers
4. Everybody's Changing
5. Your Eyes Open
6. She Has No Time
7. Can't Stop Now
8. Sunshine
9. This is the Last Time
10. On A Day Like Today
11. Untitled I
12. Bedshaped

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