Hopes and Fears
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2004, Volume 11, #8
Written by T.J. Simon
For the past few years, every decent ensemble to come out of the U.K., such as Travis, Elbow, and the Doves, has been branded the next Coldplay. The latest victim of this exercise in lazy journalistic group-think is Keane, and while comparisons to Coldplay arenít off the mark, the band also recalls the over-the-top balladry of Queen, the í80s pop of Tears for Fears, and the schmaltzy-but-fun excursions of Robbie Williams.
Keaneís full-length debut Hopes and Fears is a slickly-produced, 11-track collection with an intriguing gimmick: Thereís not a single guitar on the outing. Instead, the group relies upon the steady keyboard playing of Tim Rice-Oxley and the soaring falsetto of vocalist Tom Chaplin to propel its music forward. Unfortunately, the songs on the album are largely hit and miss affairs. Somewhere Only We Know and This Is the Last Time are as good as anything to be found on the modern rock radio dial. The same is true for Canít Stop Now and Bedshaped, but several otherwise decent tunes ó such as We Might as Well Be Strangers, Sunshine, and She Has No Time ó are plagued with lame drum-machine-style percussion.
Throughout Hopes and Dreams, Chaplinís voice flies high like a young Freddie Mercury, but his lyrics need a serious shot in the arm. As for being a piano-based ensemble, the listener deserves to hear at least a little more swagger on the ivories ŗ la Ben Folds Five, but alas, the keyboard accompaniments instead serve to give the album an orchestral feel without ever pulling their weight as the bandís lead instrument. While thereís clearly a smattering of tunes worth hearing on Hopes and Fears, itís clear that Keane is a band whose best work is yet to come.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box