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Record Rating: *****

Keane - Hopes And Fears - Universal In 2002, after the loss of their guitarist and a period of time honing their sound, Keane decided that they needed to get out and play gigs again. They booked two acoustic shows, one at the 12 Bar Club, another at the Betsey Trotwood. Fierce Panda mini-mogul Simon Williams caught the Betsey Trotwood gig, and asked Keane to put out a single on his label. The band chose 'Everybody’s Changing', a sweeping, majestic ballad about feeling utterly lost. And the rest as they say is history.

The hottest new band to emerge so far in 2004, their debut Hopes And Fears went straight in at number one on the UK charts. Hotly tipped for success with their particular brand of piano rock that brought them a Top 3 chart position with 'Somewhere Only We Know', the album does live up to the predicted high standard. After the first listen, you’ll probably find it hard to believe that there are only three members in Keane. Lead vocalist Tom Chaplin sings radio friendly songs without much effort, and most of the eleven tracks are pretty good thanks to the clever piano play and the clever lyrics on the misery of love and despair. The album is high on the quality scale, with a satisfying assortment of strong and superbly crafted songs, both in terms of arrangement and delivery. On the standout tracks like 'This Is The Last Time', 'Everybody's Changing' and 'Can’t Stop Now' - the transitions flow pleasantly from subdued verses to a deeper feeling of disenchantment during the sparkling choruses. This is the kind of music Elton John used to make in his earlier years – soft rock driven by the hook-laden simplicity of band member Rice-Oxley's piano.

Closing up the record is the stunning, moody relationship ballad 'Bedshaped' - which is the perfect ending to one of the most surprising records that I've heard in a long while. The end result – Hopes & Fears - is a top notch album that’ll be in your CD player for a while. While nothing as revolutionary as The Beatles - compared to most of the rock bands out there today - a two thumbs up effort for Keane with its debut.

Read our other reviews:

Prince - Musicology       Hanson - Underneath       Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand       Voyage 3- Various Artists      


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