When I spoke with singer Tom Chaplin of Keane last week, he insisted that the group's hectic lifestyle of the last two years has not changed the band's outlook on their music. But after relentless touring, a headlining gig at Live8 in 2005 and worldwide fame, it is pretty obvious that the band has lived and learned, which is expressed on their much-anticipated new record "Under The Iron Sea." Musically and lyrically, this new album is a lot bleaker than their previous CD "Hopes & Fears" as Keane tries to wrap their hands around the challenging times we live in. "This is by no means a positive album," Chaplin added. "Under The Iron Sea" will be available in stores on June 12th. You can view the entire track listing of the record here.
Interestingly, Keane is able to convey their angst and concerns without the use of any single guitar. Instead, keyboard player and muscial mastermind Tim Rice-Oxley experimented with new and vintage synths that he collected while touring.
"Under The Iron Sea" kicks off with the angsty "Atlantic" that will be released as a digital video single in May. "Though the world is broken, I need a place to make my bed," sings Chaplin, capturing the darker overall theme of the record. The album picks up steam on the catchy "Is It Any Wonder?" that shows how Rice-Oxley has skillfully used synths to mimic a guitar-infused arena sound that still sounds distinctly Keane.
After this amped-up tune, the album ventures into more familiar Keane territory with the splendid melodies ("Nothing In My Way," "Put It Behind You"), a tear-jerking ballad ("Hamburg Song") and Chaplin's gifted choir boy vocals ("A Bad Dream"). In fact, oftentimes Chaplin's crooning is reminiscent of a young Freddie Mercury and even Rufus Wainwright, especially on "Leaving So Soon."
The album's title track is a crunchy instrumental composition that features haunting, electronic synths that reveal the dark sonic backdrop for the record. It is like the group scratches off some of the musical veneer to show how they really feel.
But after almost two minutes they put the gloss back on with the poppy "Crystal Ball," which serves up a glimmer of optimism in its sing-along chorus. "Lines ever more unclear. I'm fading out. Everything I know is wrong," sings Chaplin. "Crystal ball, crystal ball save us all. Tell me life is beautiful."
Another stand out song is the final track "The Frog Prince" that
sounds like a lullaby for adults. Chaplin explained that song has no
political undertones but is in fact a song about the trappings of fame
and success. "Your prince's crown cracks and falls down. You castle
hollow and cold. You wondered so far from the person you are." The song
is a fitting finale to an excellent new album by the group of three
childhood friends who have managed to remain down to earth while making
More of my interview with Tom Chaplin on a newsstand near soon soon. I will keep you posted.