Under the Iron Sea

Studio Album by released in 2006
Under the Iron Sea's tracklist:
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

Under the Iron Sea review

Keane sinks into melancholy

Having won both critical and commercial acclaim for their debut album Hopes And Fears, British band Keane pushes the hook-infested keyboard-rock on their sophomore effort in a darker, moodier direction. But Under The Iron Sea features an intense, romantic brand of melancholy, with the trio of Tom Chaplin, Richard Hughes, and Tim Rice-Oxley vamping their way through vaulting rock melodies and power ballads, all without the aid of a single guitar. There are plenty of deliciously chewy guitar-like sounds, though, that Keane achieves by feeding electric pianos and synthesizers through various effects, pedals and studio gear. At the very least, we're discovering Keane aren't content to just churn out a Hopes And Fears mark II. In keeping with the deft beauty of their trademark melodies, they have written a second album that drags from the depths a mesmerising and grittier dynamic. Lyrically there's been progression: although the emotional frailty of their debut is still here, there's a definite sense of an album informed by the world around it, with a paranoid, apocalyptic cloud hanging heavy.

Under The Iron Sea is less immediately accessible

Under The Iron Sea is outfitted with darker, less immediately accessible songs and bigger doses of atmospheric keyboard, but it offers some of the same tuneful pleasures as the debut, with big-voiced Tom Chaplin digging into his big bag of swooning choruses on piano ballads like Crystal Ball and the catchy, gently lilting Nothing in My Way. The album beings with the gloomy pop gem Atlantic, where Chaplin broods over layers of swelling synths and insistent drum work before the song resolves into a clearing of pure melody. The song showcases Chaplin's soaring vocals, which are at points as tortured as Thom Yorke's and at others smoothly reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. The underlying narratives remain constant throughout the record. They touch on the dislocation of a generation powerless to change decisions that have been made on behalf of them. The search for places that don’t exist and answers that are never there become apparent foremost on first single, Is It Any Wonder? as well as on the W.B. Yeats-inspired A Bad Dream.

Set to be one of the biggest albums of the year

Keane have returned with an album that moulds a bolder, smoldering and more intense sound but which retains the classic song-writing of Hopes And Fears. They could easily have re-hashed their debut and sold bucketloads. As it is, they've subtly honed their sound and ventured into some darker musical corners along their way. And the funny thing is, they'll still sell bucketloads. Filled with moving, melodic rock, this is a solid second Keane’s effort that points to further sonic expansions to come. Described by the band as a darker and more raw experience, Under The Iron Sea is the sound of Keane pushing the boundaries of soaring melodica and hook-laden songs that equally shock and excite. Including the rousing and pulsating new single Is It Any Wonder?, a track that finds the band at their most confident and anthemic, Under The Iron Sea looks set to be one of the biggest albums of the year.

(20.06.2006)
Rate review4.64
Total votes - 95


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