Keane – Hopes and Fears

A while ago I heard the song “Somewhere Only We Know” and became instantly intrigued by a band named Keane. Only one other person I knew had ever heard of them and he told me that I should buy their last CD. So after searching many music stores and websites, I came to the sad, sad conclusion that this release was not available in the States. After weeks of looking in various import sections of record stores and still not being able to find it, I decided that it was hopeless and stopped my search. And so I lost faith in my local record shops and tried to forget about the band and CD that I had devoted many hours of my life trying to find. Months past and I had forgotten Keane and “Somewhere Only We Know” but then, like a daisy popping out of the snow, I saw it: Keane – Hopes and Fears up for review. I was replying faster than you could scream “Looks like another Coldplay sound-a-like band.”

The first track, “Somewhere Only We Know,” is the song that caused me to spend countless hours looking for a CD that had not even seen release yet. It is a simple piano driven song that showcases the band’s understated and soft melodic music. Tom Chaplin’s voice is released with a quiet desperation which suits the song’s longing lyrics. “Oh simple thing where have you gone? / I’m getting old and I need something to rely on” is sung in such an earnest way that it feels as if the lyrics are a part of you, and not just some band’s words. Despite the beautiful lyrics and vocals the center of this song is comprised of the gorgeous keyboard melody produced by Tim Rice-Oxley. The richness of the melody provides the perfect backdrop to this longing tale of desire for stability and love.

“Everybody’s Changing,” the album’s fifth track, left me struck with this odd comparison that I couldn’t get out of my mind. Every time Chaplin’s voice began to sing the chorus, for some reason Elton John came to mind. The bouncy piano and Chaplin’s slight falsetto swinging wildly into a contrasting low just reminded me of Elton’s ranging vocals. The music backing my wild obsession with the above comparison is light, bouncy, and filled with little flourishes of the keyboard which is a complete turnaround from the uncertainty in the lyrics. The next track, “Your Eyes Open,” begins with an eerie keyboard melody and Richard Hughes’ consistently magnificent drums. The underlying darkness of the track remains evident despite Chaplin’s uplifting voice.

An average listener would describe Hopes and Fears as part slower-Radiohead and part piano-driven Coldplay; but after a few listens one can begin to notice the small intricacies that make Keane’s music similar to those other UK bands but completely remarkable on its own.

(Interscope Records)