June 25, 2006
Review: Keane's Under The Iron Sea
I so wanted Keane's new album Under The Iron Sea to elicit a big collective orgasm, but really it's just a pleasant sigh. There are indeed some very good songs added to the Keane canon. There's the angry "Leaving So Soon," with an operatic chorus [...and a lyric I dedicate to a complete dickhead in my real life!]. The catchy, but disillusioned "Crystal Ball" is exciting: a stadium armwaver for sure, with a really bad lyric on the chorus and a good one on the bridge. "The Frog Prince" has a sweet fable lyric and the put-a-spell-on-you bit is really beautiful.
Despite all this, the record is not really a transcendant masterpiece. Were my expectations too high? Sure! Did Coldplay live up to expectations after their first CD? Yes, they blew everyone out of the water! As did Travis with The Invisible Band. Take Keane's nice new ballad "Hamburg Song." Why give it such a lame title? Becuase they didn't know what the song was about? It could've been "The Rotterdam Song" if Beautiful South hadn't taken that.
The band have (annoyingly) made much of the fact they were unravelling under the pressures of touring and fame when they made the CD and, to me, you can hear it. "Atlantic" is just such effort to get through - I don't get it! Pretentious! The ecstacy so prominent on their debut is not here, so just go back to "Your Eyes Open." They do try some new sounds, especially on a slow-grower like "Broken Toy." It is to Keane's credit that this and a few other songs (especially the ballads) do not leap out immediately. You have to play them again and again, which has meant the album's come into focus for me after about a month of listening to it.
The identity crisis that "Is It Any Wonder" led me to anticipate is not so bad. That song is overrated, though it's probably strong live. It sounds like u2, which translates to me as a blatant bid for chart success (not even touching that shitty video).
I still say Under The Iron Sea is at its best with the cover art! I'd agree with Paul that UTIS is not as bad as it seemed at first. I don't know if this album will place in my Top 10 of the year... and that orgasm I mentioned up top? Are Keane lovers who don't try hard enough the second time...or am I just so angsty that I killed the moment?
A good blog called The Test Pilot has a post with some MP3s.
Posted by xolondon