It's hard to tell whether Keane is lashing out at the ills of the world or crying out from the personal conflict caused by fame. But on their new release, Under the Iron Sea, the follow-up to the five-million-selling Hopes and Fears, the romantic piano popsters tackle new territory: dark and angry.
But, being Keane, it only can be so morose since undertones of sonic hope shine through the lyrical pain and confusion. Like Editors, whose debut The Back Room pits grim content against poppy music, Keane experiments with that equation.
"Atlantic," the dark album opener, sets a mysteriously eerie tone, but the album quickly rebounds – sonically, at least – with its upbeat first single, "Is It Any Wonder?" The whole of Iron Sea is a moody back-and-forth commentary on the band's whirlwind success. "Hamburg Song" nods toward the dramatic and grandiose while "A Bad Dream" displays an emotional breakdown. Fortunately the hopeful "Crystal Ball" and dreamlike "The Frog Prince" tie things together to remind us that things are seemingly OK in Keane land.
It's almost hard to imagine life being difficult for these guys when they present their turmoil in such a gorgeous package. Whoever said misery had to be dark and ugly? It surely wasn't Keane.
Check out MP3s at iTunes UK store (it's not released in the US until June 20).
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