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Under the Iron Sea

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It’s hard to fathom that Keane is a guitar-less trio. Their drums-bass-keyboards approach is so ornate, lush, and atmospheric that their every tune turns into a pocket symphony rife with melodrama. That they could approach this grand mastery without the usual six-string culprit is a singular achievement. This East Sussex, UK trio have never met a special effect they couldn’t twist to their advantage and their second studio album, Under the Iron Sea, utilizes their sonic expertise to massive effect. In the tradition of early Radiohead (before they became an art project), Coldplay, and U2 (for whom they opened on tour), Keane combine this profound love for ambient atmospherics with song emphasizing fancy melodies that push singer Tom Chaplin’s voice all over the scale. The unexpected success of their debut album – two Brit awards, a Grammy nomination, actual record sales – stressed the band to the near breaking-up point and that tension, along with a deteriorating world situation, fuels the melancholic strains of “Leaving So Soon?,” “A Bad Dream” and “Hamburg Song.”

Customer Reviews

Good album, but inconsistent

I'm a big fan of Keane, and I was looking forward to "Under the Iron Sea" as much as anyone. Because of this, I want to be as honest as possible in my review for other fans of the trio. As many fans will already know, this album was written in spurts while Keane was on the road, and one must admit that the album consequently feels somewhat disjointed. It has strong moments, such as "Atlantic", "Is it any Wonder", and "Nothing in My Way", (which sounds more like the 'old' Keane than most of the other tracks), but the album is strongest toward the beginning, and some of the mid-to-late songs feel like b-sides. While "Hopes and Fears" was consistently strong, "Under the Iron Sea", for all its being dubbed "darker" and "more experimental", is also (and surprisingly) occasionally lifeless ("Try Again" and "Broken Toy" are particularly flat). Still, UTIS is a good, if not great, album and perhaps gives us a glimpse of Keane's developmental curve, and they should definitely be applauded for not merely turning out Hopes and Fears Part II, even though many fans will be disappointed that Keane has not done exactly that. And I should also say that the comparisons to U2 are unwarranted. This is still a piano-driven album, and nothing here really resembles the Edge's stacatto guitar work. It should also be said that unlike H & F, which is instantly appealing, this album is more of a grower, becoming more appealing with multiple listens, so don't dismiss it on first listen. Overall, UTIS is an album that is somewhat inconsistent, but is still recognizable as Keane and is definitely worth owning for its bright spots.

Different than their normal, but not bad at all.

Keane is my absolute favorite band, so naturally I went out first thing today to purchase their new album. I'm a little disappointed - I loved their lush, melancholy, piano-ey melodies, and this album is far more "electric" and upbeat. There is a fair bit of electric guitar on this album - this is especially noticeable on "Is It Any Wonder?". However, the band manages to maintain their layered, lush sound. Although I've been listening to the CD for only a few hours, some favorite tracks are... "Nothing in My Way": This is very catchy and has a head-bobbing sort of tune. "A Bad Dream": This is very deep - it concerns the horrors of war. "Crystal Ball": Similar to Nothing in My Way, this maintains a very upbeat sound and is catchy. "Try Again": This reminds me a bit more of the "old" Keane...wonderful lyrics. Overall I think this doesn't quite reach the high level of Hopes and Fears, but it's not a bad album at all.


Keane did it again with another smash album! Basically every track is awesome. Some that stand out include: their solo "Is It Any Wonder?", "Leaving So Soon?" and "Put It Behind You". But, I'd recommend buying the whole album in its entirety; it's put together so nicely and each track flows greatly into one another. These young guys are HUGE in the UK and look out for them in the US now. A new, full sound that's different from their debut album but none the less, still a very catchy, good listen. Only a few songs are similar to their last album, including "Nothing In My Way" and "Crystal Ball". The piano lends to a Coldplayesque vibe, but they definitely do have their own sound. I was a big fan of their 1st album also, so I recommend both of 'em!


Formed: 1997 in East Battle, Sussex, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Keane's piano-driven pop/rock is created by vocalist Tom Chaplin, drummer Richard Hughes, and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley, three childhood friends from the small town of Battle in East Sussex, England. Formed in 1997, the group started out as a college-aged cover band. Guitarist Dominic Scott was also part of this early incarnation, having previously played cover songs with Hughes and Rice-Oxley in a band named the Lotus Eaters. Keane toured the East Sussex circuit for several years while internalizing...
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Under the Iron Sea, Keane
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