Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Album Of The Day #117: UNDER THE IRON SEA - Keane

Title: Under The Iron Sea
Artist: Keane
Label: Interscope
Released: 2006
Songs: Atlantic/Is It Any Wonder?/Nothing In My Way/Leaving So Soon/A Bad Dream/Hamburg Song/Put It Behind You/Crystal Ball/Try Again/Broken Toy/The Frog Prince
Written by: Tom Chaplin, Richard Hughes & Tim Rice-Oxley
Produced by: Andy Greene & Kean
Thoughts: For their second LP, Keane continues their unique sound, but they sort of push it to the extreme limit, even further than they pushed it on Hopes And Fears. The album opens with a full minute long instrumental intro, setting up for a very intricate LP. The hit single, “Is It Any Wonder?” sort of proves that they keep pushing, especially when you compare it to the slow, quiet “Somewhere Only We Know” that provided them with their first hit. The song screams on the stereo and is a great three minute anthem. “Nothing In My Way” proves that the rest of the group can provide some pretty strong harmony vocals. The next trio of songs that close the first half is pretty unexciting. “Leaving So Soon” and “A Bad Dream” are very much in a Keane mold, whereas “Hamburg Song” is just a slow piano ballad.
The second half rips open with the six minute rocker (if a song with no guitars can be called a ‘rocker’) “Put It Behind You”. I love the power that you feel coming from the drumming behind the piano, making it easily the highlight of the record for me. It is a rather ambitious track though, because it stops halfway through and transforms into a new song entirely, floating into a synthesizer orchestra that is pretty nuts. “Crystal Ball”, which provides the album’s title, is another nice, poppy track with a fun chorus. Clearly, if “Is It Any Wonder?” wasn’t on this album, “Crystal Ball” would be my choice for the single (and actually was released as a single). “Try Again” is a really quiet track, but I actually have to say the lyrics are very nice. Another ambitious, six minute track follows, titled “Broken Toy”. The track has this very jazzy melody, but the piano almost betrays the beats that the drumming lays down, along with the added synthesizers. “The Frog Prince” is a lovely closer. It doesn’t provide as much of a climax as one might hope for, but it is a beautiful ending.
Overall, the album is very good and easy-going. It shows development from Hopes And Fears, but isn’t strikingly different. I really like Keane and can’t wait for what’s on Perfect Symmetry, which will be reviewed tomorrow.

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