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This review is from: Hopes and Fears (Audio CD)
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.