Coldplay. There, it’s been said. Now can we move on? Every time a band puts a little jangle in their rock or a lilt in their pop, Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow’s band is inevitably summoned as the be-all end-all of Britpop. But East Sussex rockers Keane, who named themselves after their childhood nanny, owe more to American college rock bands like R.E.M. and U.K. synth-pop acts like New Order and Soft Cell. Comparisons to Travis would be more appropriate, considering the sunshiny, keyboard-heavy dream-pop on display throughout Keane’s major label debut Hopes and Fears, and particularly in frontman Tom Chaplin’s sonorous vocals. Put simply, it’s the kind of music Liam Gallagher would despise. In some ways, Keane is doing Travis better than Travis did on their last album (see “This Is the Last Time” and “Everybody’s Changing”). At times the first half of Hopes and Fears is excruciatingly pretty (are those seriously birds chirping during “Your Eyes Open”?), and from the very first lyric of the very first song, “Somewhere Only We Know,” Chaplin’s schoolboy earnestness is apparent: “I walked across an empty land…This could be the end of everything.” It’s when his band—currently comprised of Tim Rice-Oxley on keys and bass, and Richard Hughes on drums—matches Chaplin’s sweet, dark melodrama (“She Has No Time,” “Untitled 1,” and “Sunshine,” which sounds like ‘60s California pop by way of overcast England) that things transcend whatever pesky label the British press wishes to stamp on the band.
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