Keane - Hopes & Fears
Alex Worsnip 10/05/2004
You genuinely only have to look at the title of the album to know what's up here, don't you? I was introduced to Keane by the magnificent 'This Is The Last Time', a true stunner of a song, derivative perhaps but saved by a fabulously soaring chorus that you could hum for days, and maintains genuine emotional gravitas. But its almost needless to say that, like Aqualung and Haven before them, one good single doesn't imply they can last the length of an album when they're so dependent on their influences. I feel almost guilty for saying 'Coldplay', because its such an obvious and irritating comparison to make, but unfortunately you just have to. The twist of not having a guitarist is plenty original, but with this exception there's little difference.
Now this isn't to say 'Hopes and Fears' is a bad album. Its not as earth-shakingly awful as, say, Aqualung's second. Of course, 'Somewhere Only We Know', actually the bigger hit, is fairly pleasent and nice-sounding, though it could never match up to 'This Is The Last Time'. And nothing here is essentially bad. What many of the tracks are, is faceless. Despite pulling out strong melodies on almost every track (much to their credit), they can feel like they fell out of the 'rent-a-soaring-melody' machine.
Because, let's face it, a catchy tune isn't enough. Steps had catchy tunes; Aqua had catchy tunes, but you wouldn't listen to them if someone paid you. No: you need something more. You need some sort of edge or originality. 'Hopes and Fears' is fairly cannily produced, too, Tom Chaplin's voice is melodious and slightly cracked: its all here. Everything except something to distinguish them from the many decent bands with a way with a tune like them: to prove they're more than just pleasent fooder but an object of passion and love. This they haven't yet done. You could do much worse, but on the other hand, you could do much better.