Review Summary: An unexpected strong release from the piano-playing trio. This album contains almost only strong tracks, except for a few weaker ones. Keane has really put themselves on the pop/rock indie map with their debut, "Hopes & Fears".
Hopes & Fears by Keane
What I first notice when listening to Keane's debut album "Hopes & Fears" is the total honesty in their music as well as their lyrics. With the naked sound of a grand piano as in "We Might As Well Be Strangers" or the heart-aching howls by Tom Chaplin in "Bend and Break". Lyrically their songs are easy to listen to and still original enough to not find cliché, but still vague enough to be able to connect your own emotions and experiences into them. Their "you and me" sort of writing and piano pop sound may sound the same throughout the album but most songs are interesting enough to not get repetive. There are exceptions of course, like the falsetto-fest "She Has No Time" that is one of the weaker tracks off the album. Even though a bold attempt with the use of only Chaplin's voice and piano as weak background sound, sadly it doesn't deliver even though the nakedness of the song may interest some. While we're talking about the weaknesses, "Untitled I" is also worth mentioning. Behind the dull title hides (if possible) an even duller song. More upbeat than "She Has No Time" but still way to uninteresting to be that long and empty sounding.
Some other songs are also worth mentioning, as the earlier mentioned "We Might As Well Be Strangers", a true example of Keane's greatness with quite a few measures, namely grand piano and Tom Chaplin's voice. Keane's lyrics aren't all obvious, some are vague and some even weird. Chaplin is a true genius of transferring the feelings from their songs, he sings with such an emotional touch and power that makes the listener understand just what he means. He could just speak gibberish but people would still recognize the feelings he's trying to supply, even though he doesn't speak actual words, as in "Your Eyes Open" where the emotional choruses play the key role in its greatness.
Hopes & Fears basically contains two different types of songs, piano ballads or upbeat piano pop songs. Songs like "Bend and Break", "Somewhere Only We Know" and "This Is The Last time" are a few examples of the later ones that works really well. Another song worth mentioning is "Can't Stop Now", a sad song with depressing lyrics but still got a happy-sounding sound. Their more upbeat songs work a bit better than the piano ballads, but they got a few that works really well. The slow and emotional "Sunshine" is one of the greatest moments on the record, with its dark sound and incredible singing by Tom. One other song worth mentioning is "Bedshaped", the ending title which starts off slow with the most appealing piano-riff off the whole CD, followed by a stronger and upbeat chorus where Chaplin gets to sing out his whole register.
Overall "Hopes and Fears" is an even record, the songs sound the same yet most of them are still interesting. Even though it got a few glitches with a couple of weak songs most of them are a true example of greatness from a band with the wind under their wings. Keane is really setting the standard here with their first album and they will definitely feel the pressure on them in the future.