Keane - Under The Iron Sea Album Review

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Review of Under The Iron Sea Album by Keane

Under The Iron Sea

Keane Under The Iron Sea Album

Album Review

The follow-up to Keane's 5 million-selling "Hopes And Fears" was recorded in New York and at Helioscentric Studios, near the band's hometown of Battle in Sussex. On their Myspace site they declare, "we were writing, singing and performing with a drive, intensity and fury that is almost unrecognisable from our previous music", perhaps with the intention of shading their tag of being the purveyors of 'wuss-rock'.

Already available as a video download, "Atlantic" opens the record in dark and dramatic fashion. The drumming of Richard Hughes dominates as a string section swoons, but the track fails to encapsulate, and serves as a disappointing introduction. Quite the antithesis is imminent single "Is It Any Wonder?" which contains an urgency perhaps not often associated with Keane. The bouncy chorus is infectious, and it is something that is also found on the cascading "Put It Behind You" and glorious "Crystal Ball". The band injects similar energy into "Leaving So Soon?" but seem to have forgotten to give the track a hook, making it extremely tempting to reach for the skip button on the CD player.

Those who loved Keane's previous work will no doubt enjoy "Nothing In My Way", one of the strongest tracks present. It contains all the hallmarks of the trio, and has a chorus that will sweep you up like a tidal wave. "A Bad Dream" is of comparable style, and Tom Chaplin perfectly conveys an atmosphere of not being sure if you're awake, coupled with a sense of loss. They manage to top this on the haunting ballad "Try Again", which features touching lyrics of love and longing, and has Chaplin's best vocal performance to date. Occasionally the band get it wrong, with "The Iron Sea" a pointless instrumental, and the tedious "Hamburg Song" destined for the mellow first-song-of-the-encore slot.

Overall though, "Under The Iron Sea" finds Keane in fine form, with enough to keep their fans happy while also experimenting to expand their sound. The changes might not be as extreme as the above quote suggests, but they've certainly become a more stimulating proposition.

Alex Lai


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musicmaniac's picture


I also have to disagree! Not only do I like the "Hamburg Song" but, IMHO, the reviewer couldn't be more wrong regarding the opening track "Atlanta". The track is slow going in the beginning, but when the vocals click in, the song is a dream! It's a very appropriate opener for this concept album. Now then, I would have to concur on the Instrumental title track...but it's safe to say that the track is different and a vehicle of growth and experimentation for this very very talented 'guitar-less' band. Overall, I am very impressed with this sophomore release, just as I was with their debut, Hopes & Fears. The first single "Is It Any Wonder" is absolutely infectious and a spectacular "Pop Song". The video is an interesting use of camera-work with the camera mounted on some kinda little car/train and it is filming while riding a sheetmetal rollercoaster of a track wherein the boys are within playing their hearts out. As the reviewer pointed out..."Crystal Ball" is also a track that'll get under your skin. The hook, as in "Is It Any Wonder", will just not be ignored. I forsee these two tracks getting stuck in listener's heads for hours, days, even weeks...with the only complaint being that they can't get it outta there. The reviewer stated that "Nothing In Your Way" is (In Their Humble Opinion) the strongest track. IMHO..."Nothing In Your Way" is a tremendous track but it takes a few listens before you realize just how great it is, while "Is It Any Wonder" and "Crystal Ball" grab you that very first listen and don't let go. Based on this, I would have to disagree with the reviewer's assessment and place "Nothing In Your Way" behind the aforementioned pop sweet treats. I do have somewhat of a complaint with the reviewer's chosen top track though. From the lyrics:"Well for a lonely soul, you're having such a nice timeFor a lonely soul, you're having such a nice timeFor a lonely soul, it seems to me that you're having such a nice timeYou're having such a nice timeFor a lonely soul, you're having such a nice timeFor a lonely soul, you're having such a nice timeFor a lonely soul, it seems to me that you're having such a nice timeYou're having such a nice time"...which, you must admit, sounds very much like The Killer's crowd pleasing sing-a-long: "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier I got soul, but I'm not a soldier ..." Such crowd sing-a-longs should, again IMHO, be "from the heart" and spontaneous...not contrived as such. I'm afraid that that's just how it comes across to me. That the boys were looking for something to assure an audience participation moment during concerts. That small complaint pales in the face of the perfection of this band's live performances. No Millie-Vanilli sireeee! Pure unadulterated talent and the perfection that comes from years of hard work. My hat's off to this trio of lads from across the pond. Golly Good Show! Keep em coming!! Respectfully submitted, maniac

8 years 6 months ago
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