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Hopes and Fears

Release Date: 05.25.04
Record label: Interscope Records
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


This Review Is Going to Make Me Look Like a Mean Jerk
by: matt cibula

I kind of hate this album, but it’s not Keane’s fault. A lot of people love precious emo-pop with pretty chamber-melodies and foppishly sincere “nice British boy” vocals. They get comparisons to Radiohead but they have none of the edge; they get fairer comparisons to Coldplay but at least Chris Martin seems to be truly out there in the moment when he sings, whereas I don’t hear any sort of commitment in the cabaret vocals of singer Tom Chaplin. Maybe it can only be picked up by special and sensitive ears which are not my own.

I’m not saying these aren’t well-constructed songs; they are. Opening salvo “Somewhere Only We Know” builds up exactly the way it’s supposed to, all measured modalities and piano thumpage (that’s the gimmick, by the way: piano, no guitar, yeah yeah) and some Freddie Mercury-minus-the-absurdity-and-love balladeering from Chaplin, oh yeah there’s the slowdown, here comes the buildup…boom, right on schedule! For something with so many healthy ingredients (sincerity, songcraft, loveliness), this is pure junkfood.

But there’s another whole bunch of album here, and it’s standard-issue. “Sunshine” starts with soft piddly electric piano and adds some comforting cymbal washes and a heartbeat bassline, it’s nice in that sugary-sad way that I liked when I was twelve…but I’m not twelve any more, and now it just puts me to sleep. “This Is the Last Time” has similar ingredients, but shows off some Smiths/Cure influences which also bore me to tears – not the bands themselves, understand, just the “influences” part.

And how are you going to have a song called “Untitled I” and make it sound just like all your other stuff? Keane, you ain’t fooling me with little baby-dub effects on your drums and vocals – this is the same song as all your other songs. Okay, until the bridge, which is kinda dope. And the drums are pretty funky here. All right, I’ll grant you “Untitled I,” never mind.

But this is just pretty much an argument for the uselessness of this kind of music for me. It’s got the illusion of sadness but not actual sadness: “Don’t laugh at me / Don’t look away / You’ll follow me back with the sun in your eyeeeeeeeeees”. It’s got self-pity as a main speed. And, although it makes me seem like a self-hating white guy, it’s just the whitest music on earth.

There’s a need for that kind of stuff, I guess; apparently Keane is godhead among many people. I just thank whatever deity that made me that I don’t know any of those people. 28-Aug-2004 11:26 AM