15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Keane's Latest, 'Under the Iron Sea'., 12 Nov 2006
I bought this album with rather a sceptical outlook; how could they match the new, exciting, uplifting sounds of their debut 'Hopes and Fears'? Will the guitarless trio, fronted by Tom Chaplin, become like so many indie bands that fail to deliver with their second album?
I must say that on first listen, I was not entirely convinced. There are a few tracks - Crystal Ball, Nothing In My Way, Is It Any Wonder - that are immediately recognisable as 'Keaneish', instantly memorable for their strong piano focus, however IIAW does employ some impressive guitar effects. The opening track 'Atlantic' embodies what the band were trying to achieve with the album, an inpeneterable wall of sounds, with an oppressive layering of piano and synthesised instrumentation characterising the song. It begins with an eerie, repetitive piano riff, the track sounding too 'doomy' upon first listen, but it soon becomes a sinister, forboding piece, which takes an unexpected key change half way through. This song is definitely a grower, so bear with it. I feel that this is the stand out track, for its sheer atmosphere, and also as it shows a darker side of Keane, who have been accused of being too 'saccharine'.
Skip to 'Bad Dream', rumoured to be the next single. This song is a song-writer's dream; lulling vocals from Chaplin tell a emotional story of war and aggression, and this is definitely a dream that I wanted to last longer than it ctually did. Chaplin's vocals are stronger and also carry menace at times - Atlantic, Broken Toy - and undoubtedly form the backbone for the band, with his distinctly English accent setting them apart from other bands at the moment (Arctic's, Razorlight...) 'Hamburg Song' and 'Try Again' are heart wrenching, and tell with such emotion as Chaplin's pure register can manage his own personal struggles of late. The album is a progression from their debut, and although not as instantly 'sing-a-long', and perhaps lacking as many anthems as 'Hopes' boasted, this album shows that Keane have matured into their own distainct sound, and are a band not afraid to take risks. Overall, this album does not disappoint, and I know that it will be on repeat on my Media Player for a while to come.