The guitar-less 3 piece return with their second album Under The Iron Sea. For me Keane don’t get the recognition from people they deserve with their individual ideas and type of music. Keane’s debut album Hopes And Fears gave them more success than they anticipated and became one of the albums of 2004. Under The Iron Sea is described by Keane as a “Fairytale world gone wrong”, so what is it actually like?
Atlantic, a haunting, dynamic track opens Under The Iron Sea in great fashion. Tom Chaplin’s vocals range throughout, and mixed with the quiet but harsh undertones make for a strong track. Is It Any Wonder? was the lead single from the album and shows the less serious side of Keane that was prevalent in their earlier work. The melodic lyrics, mock guitar and consistent drums make this a good lead track, but not the best of the album. Nothing In My Way is much like hit single Somewhere Only We Know, and listening feels like this album would be reminiscent of Hopes And Fears. How wrong could I be! The trio of tracks following are Leaving So Soon?, A Bad Dream and Hamburg Song are all brilliant songs that display the tension that success brought the band. A near split, the deteriorating world situation and Tom going into rehab all contribute to the songs on the album, but these 3 songs convey the problems brilliantly. Leaving So Soon? is a typical upbeat Keane song, with the booming piano and the ranging vocals. A Bad Dream is a more sedate song but equally melodic and meaningful as anything Keane have ever done. Hamburg Song is a strong ballad type song on which Tom Chaplin takes over the piano for the first time. The album splits in half after the instrumental The Iron Sea and the 4 tracks to follow are more at home with the idea of a “fairytale world gone wrong”. Crystal Ball was the second single and is my personal favourite, with it’s tuneful beat and lyrics that suggest of Chaplin’s struggle with life and in particular Cocaine. Broken Toy and Try Again are less memorable tracks off the album in my opinion, but the album finishes with The Frog Prince, which is different to other tracks on the album but is just a track of great quality, with strong vocals, a good piano and drum backing; it ends the album in great style.
Under The Iron Sea is a strong follow-up album to Hopes And Fears, and definitely deals with more personal issues than its predecessor. Personally, I think you can’t compare the two albums directly as they are two completely individual albums. Under The Iron Sea is a very good album in it’s own right and worth a listen from most.