on 13 May 2004
Keane's debut album, Hopes & Fears, sounds like an instant classic. All of the tunes are quite simply brilliant, from the melodic Somewhere Only We Know (Track 1) right through until the emotional rollercoaster which is far many their best song, Bedshaped (Track 12). The only way that they could have improved this album would have been to put on it their excellent b-sides Snowed Under and To The Ends Of The Earth. But by their absence from the album it demonstrates the quality of the tracks that Keane have on the album itself. My personal favourite is Can't Stop Now, with its insistent beating rhythm and personal lyrics. It is my tip to be a single, as it sounds brilliant on the radio! And all this without a guitar anywhere... When Keane can use the booming piano and synthesizers of Tim Rice-Oxley, the thumping & pounding drums of Richard Hughes, and the soaring angelic Chris Martin/Aha..esque vocals of Tom Chaplin, what are guitars again? Must have album of the year! Buy it! Five Stars! *****
on 27 January 2005
At first glance, it is easy to say Keane's debut album 'Hopes and Fears' is simply a collection of tender, heartfelt songs. While there is no doubting that the songs are indeed that, a more deeper delve into the lyrics reveal a subtle yet significant concept album. Maybe not on par with the prog rock genius of Pink Floyd for example, but this album is a wonderful take on the Hopes and Fears that all of us experience.
What makes the lyrics special is that they are universal. There is no mention of anyones name or of places. It is all told with 'he, she, us, them' which makes is easy to relate to. And the masterstroke is the different takes on situations. This is not told from any one persons point of view.
Let's start of with the sublime 'Bedshaped'. The song itself goes through two very different, yet understandable, emotions experienced at the end, or near-end, of a relationship. It starts off with the beautiful recollection of past times: "Many's the time I ran with you down / The rainy roads of our old town / Many's the lives we lived in each day / And buried altogether." The lyrics then take on a more darker view: "You will follow me make with the sun in your eyes and on your own / Beshaped and legs of stone." It's a wonderful piece of writing echoed by a stunning piano melody.
Then there are other perspectives. 'On A Day Like Today' gives us the tale of a love that is kept hidden: "If you only knew the way I feel / I'd really love to tell you / But I can never find the words to say."
'She has no time' is told from the point of view of (possibbly) a friend comforting another, or maybe just a shared experience: "My heart opens up to you / When she say she has no time for you now."
And then 'This Is The Last Time' is told by the person who has had enough, who wants out: "This is the last time that I will show my face / One last tender lie and then I'm out of this place."
These are just a few examples on the album.
It is an excellent and unusual way of writing songs. There are plenty of 'I love you' and 'why don't you love me' and 'I wanna tell you I love ya' songs out there, but what makes this album unique is that it takes us on the roller coaster of human emotions that are connected with love/relationships/breakdowns, all in one album and all told from different points of view. There really is something here for everyone.
The top notch lyrics and equally matched by the brillant music. Tim Rice-Oxley's writing is sublime, understated and intelligent. It is well documented that Keane are a guitar-less band (although there is bass on some tracks). However the melodious, piano-soaked sounds of this album will capture the musical heart of even the toughest guitar-head.
Maybe the best part of Keane are Tom Chaplin's dreamy vocals which soar and crash like a wave, taking the lyrics to new places with his wounderful harmony.
Hopes and Fears is a stunning debut album: unique, cool, vibrant and delicate. And most of all it is great. Undoubtedly the best album of the millenium so far.
on 5 April 2005
Undoubtedly one of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2004, British group Keane exploded onto the UK music scene with their debut album, "Hopes and Fears". This album shot straight to no. 1, returning there on numerous occasions throughout the year, and incredibly it still resides in the UK Top 10 album chart as of 27th March 2005, almost a whole year after its release. That, in my belief, should speak for itself.
Keane are a curious three-piece, comprising singer Tom Chaplin, pianist/keyboard player/bassist Tim Rice-Oxley and drummer Richard Hughes. They released a smattering of singles with various companies before eventually settling with Universal Island following the departure of their guitarist. Rather than seeking out a new one, however, the group simply decided to continue as a three, and in my opinion this is the best move Keane could have made. As a result their sound is totally unique; the piano replaces the customary guitar at the foreground of their tracks, and really gets the listener thinking about what the group's genre of music actually is. My best shot at a classification of Keane's music is classically inspired rock fused with pop, and I was so enthralled by this new style that I eagerly bought this album at Christmas 2004.
Very rarely does an album come along that forces the listener to stop and simply admire the music in its complete form, from the production and instrumentalism to the actual writing of the tracks, but I am delighted to say that "Hopes and Fears" is one such album. It includes twelve superb songs, all of which, although they follow a similar style, somehow bring something different to the album. The opening track, "Somewhere only we know", sets the sound for the remainder of the album; a bright, mid-tempo number with energetic piano instrumentals and heartfelt vocals from Chaplin. This was an excellent first choice of single for Keane, bettered only by the epic "Everybody's changing" (nominated for "Best British Single" at the 2004 BRIT Awards), which established itself as a classic virtually days after its release in May. Other singles lifted from this album are "This is the last time", arguably the most heartfelt of the whole collection, and the beautiful "Bedshaped", relating to a man's longing to find peace with a loved one and accompanied by a light-hearted but somewhat disturbing video. Unusually for a single, "Bedshaped" is positioned at the end of the album, but I feel that this is a fantastic finale as the keyboard and drumkit instrumental close to the end of the song seems to showcase Rice-Oxley and Hughes really letting rip on their instruments, as though they agree with every word Chaplin is singing and are playing accordingly.
Every remaining track on "Hopes and Fears" is worthy of release as a single; so amazing is the quality of Keane's music, ranging from fantastic uptempo tracks such as "Bend and break", "Your eyes open" and "Can't stop now" to emotional, ballad-inspired soft rock. The latter class is represented by "We might as well be strangers" and "Sunshine", a lovely track painted with soft electric piano instrumentals and, as ever, Chaplin's emotional voice. "She has no time" is also beautiful to listen to, with its positive yet sad melody that perfectly compliments the meaning of the song. Again, the use of the electric piano in numerous stages of the track provides a peaceful, absorbing listening atmosphere.
Aside from "Bedshaped", my personal favourite from this album is "Untitled 1", which another reviewer has honoured as a "five-and-a half-minute masterpiece". I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with this statement; kicking off with a curious drum rhythm and a mysterious electric piano sequence, gradually building up to a chorus containing haunting vocal overdubs from Chaplin, this track is like nothing I have ever heard before. The only track which I initially considered to be "weak" was "On a day like today", mainly because it is so long and quite repetitive. I now overlook these facts, as the melody is stunning and the piano partnered with similar vocal overdubs to those of "Untitled 1" is very capable of bowling the listener over, particularly in the coda where Chaplin's voice echoes away into the distance and a gust of wind can be heard blowing away the piano instrumental, as well as the listener in my opinion.
As I established in the title of my review, you should definitely believe the hype that surrounds "Hopes and Fears". In fact, don't stop there; buy this fantastic album and completely lose yourself in it as Keane proceed to revolutionise British music. Never has a debut album given me so much listening pleasure.
Keane fully deserve the Brit award they won for this album. It is a joy to listen to. Their piano based rock sounds like no other out their, really fresh and vibrant. Many have compared the sound to Coldplay, but Keane have a more melodic sound which relies more on the piano. The sound is certainly individual in the music business in this country at the moment and makes a great change from the guitar based bands we are used to.
This album is full of potential singles. Admittedly there are one or two weaker songs, but the vast majority are really strong tunes with perfect melodies and intelligent lyrics. Even the weaker songs are not poor, they are good songs, but have a more experimental feel than the other tracks and have not come out as well as a result. After a few listens though they really grow on you. The strongest tracks are of course the singles Everybody's Changing, Somewhere Only We Know and Bedshaped, which are all really catchy.
Tom Chaplin has a brilliant voice and his vocals are one of the strongest points on the album. The two musicians, Richard and Tim, are both very skilled and this contributes to a mature sound that compliments the vocals perfectly. Tim's piano skills in particular are impressive, and enable him to create a more delicate and individual sound than any other pianist in the rock genre at present. The album is superbly produced and has a good sound clarity which emphasizes the piano sound perfectly. Overall this is a really good debut album that deserves all the plaudits it gets.
on 30 March 2005
Stop comparing them with other bands because Keane's music is so distinguished from the rest, you wont believe how good they are! Tom Chaplin's voice is heavenly, the music arrangement is superb, I agree they are like a breath of fresh air in indie music.This is my album of the century! Isn't it great to fall in love again?
on 15 May 2004
It's appropriate that this album is called Hopes And Fears, because I approached it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Having bought and loved the band's initial single releases, could this album possibly live up to the expectations I had for it? The answer: very nearly. Certainly the piano-led tracks are a pleasant change in the current guitar-centric climate of indie music, and the quality of the songs is, for the most part, extremely high. The album loses its way somewhat on the penultimate track Untitled 1, which is probably the most uptempo track but which seems directionless and more than a little incongruous for that. The single releases are largely representative of the album's quality; standout track for me, though, is the beautiful, lilting She Has No Time, a song which tests lead singer Tom Chaplin's soaring falsetto to the extreme, and does not find him wanting.
I'm still unsure whether the album will bear up to repeated listening, but at the moment I'm enjoying a wonderfully-written, heartfelt album by what I expect to become the biggest Indie crossover success since Coldplay.
on 22 July 2005
If I had read reviews likening Keane to Coldplay I would never have gone near this album. For me, Coldplay are a symptom of the sad state of music today - that such a boring, uninspiring non-event of a band could end up at the top of the commercial heap is out of my comprehension.
Luckily, Keane and this album are altogether different. For a start, in Tom Chaplin Keane have a great, versatile voice capable of projecting the songs' abundant emotions with both strength and delicacy. Although quite unique, in different places his singing reminds me of several other good voices such as Morten Harket of A-ha, particularly regarding the range, and mid/late-80s Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers (the track Untitled I could be that very band from that era). The melodies, bridges and other changes are interesting throughout this CD, and most amazingly for an album today I don't feel the urge to skip any songs. On the contrary, even if I've just enjoyed a favourite and wouldn't mind listening again, I'll wait for the disc to wrap. While obvious influences such as an occassional 80's U2-style piano riff may be present here and there, the band and album have a distinctive sound.
I also like the style of writing/lyric, where the exact meaning isn't clear, leaving the listener to interpret what the song is about.
To wrap up, this CD has rekindled my hopes for modern music. With a bit of luck the band will cope with success and go from strength to strength with an equally strong follow-up.
I don't like to listen to 'trendy' bands just because everyone else I know says 'You haven't heard the so and so album? You peasant.', but this album is one case where I wish I had. I only heard this album the other day and I am really taken aback by the quality of the production and the lead singer's amazing voice. Some of the tracks evoke proper emotion and that's how music should be. It annoys me when music like this is overshadowed by the useless dross in the charts, including the latest dance/teen-pop rave remix of some rubbish 80's track that was better forgotten anyway. The person that says top-drawer British song-writing talent doesn't exist any more, has not listened to this album.
on 4 October 2005
Keane often get labelled boring, sub-Coldplay whiners without guitars, yet this stunning album shows how great pop music can be without an electric guitar in sight. The simplicity of the songs is their strength and if Keane started overlaying too many additional instruments it would ruin the harmony of Tom's great voice. I think this is worth buying for any real music fan who wants to hear something that is not as rocked out as standard indie fare, but has more genuine feeling than most bands can muster in a lifetime of recording.
on 22 April 2004
This is an amazing album, every track on here is brilliant, catchy and memorable. I saw Keane twice on tour with Travis and they were the bes band I've seen in a long time. I cannot pick any highlights because the entire album is fantasic. But my favourites have to be Bend and Break, Bedshaped, Can't stop now and We might as well be strangers. But every track is as good as their number three hit somewhere only we know, if not better. If you liked that one, then you'll be completely impressed by the album. I don't dislike any track on here, they are all staggeringly catchy, one listen and you'll be singing them for the rest of the week. Tim's vocals at certain times sound very Fran Healy-ish, I heard them on the radio and thought it was Travis! Then I went to see Travis and had this fantastic band in support. I enjoyed it so much I went again and ended up singing their songs for the rest of the week. This cd has not been out of my cd player, or the car. I've recommended it to all of my friends, who are now firm fans, and I've hailed them as the next big thing. This is a band who write good strong melodies and so if you like a song you can sing too, go buy this! There's a great mix here, faster songs such as bend and break and Bedhaped is a stunning slow burner. Then theres we might as well be strangers, which once you've heard, you'll wake up in the morning singing it and go to bed at night still humming the melody. Buy it, recommend it to your friends and most of all enjoy it. It's good to have some good fearless melodies back in the charts.