Hopes for "Fears"
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 06/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"British mope-rock is alive and well, as Brit-pop trio Keane makes their debut with "Hopes and Fears." Strong, soaring vocals from Tom Chaplin are backed up by some solid piano-based pop and rock. Despite constant comparisons to Radiohead, Travis and Coldplay, Keane shows plenty of promise as a unique new band.
It starts off with a strong piano solo in the quiet "Somewhere Only We Know," followed by a stream of catchy pop like the thoughtful "Everybody's Changing" and the shimmery "Bend And Break," and gossamer ballads like the melancholy "We Might As Well Be Strangers" and soaring "She Has No Time." It wraps up on a strong note with the plaintive "Bedshaped."
If any British band breaks the rock mold, it seems to be labelled as a Radiohead/Coldplay wannabe. On some superficial levels, Keane sounds rather like those bands. But it manages to remain a bit apart, rocking a bit harder and sounding a bit more straightforward and simple. It's hard to truly classify Keane as really being pop -- the lack of guitar and the prevailing piano seem to edge its catchy melodies closer to classical pop.
The first thing to know about Keane is: No guitarist. At all. Ever. Don't let it scare you -- the mix of rippling piano and gentle percussion are enough to make their melodies catchy without electric riffs. At the same time, they take some musical risks. Psychedelic piano-pop? Believe it or not, Keane does that.
Tom Chaplin's vocals are the strongest point of Keane's lineup; his solid, high soars along with the shimmery music. At times his vocals get a bit TOO high, like when he sings the title line of "She Has No Time," but most of the time he manages to sound like a heartbroken guy exorcising his breakup demons.
The songs themselves aren't terribly complex or insightful, but they can be quite poignant: "And if you have a minute why don't we go/talk about it somewhere only we know?/This could be the end of everything/so why don't we go/somewhere only we know?" Their simplicity is just enchanting.
Keane needs to distance itself a little more from the other Brit-mope-rock bands before it can blossom into true greatness. But in "Hopes And Fears," they have succeeded in the basics: bringing forth some beautiful, sometimes heartrending music."