Thursday, 24 October 2013

Keane - Hopes and Fears (2004)

Excepting possibly post-2005 Doctor Who, root canal dental work, club culture, anyone who has ever used the term industrial rock, and a whole ton of other shite, there is little that I dislike with quite such bile as that which proudly proclaims itself to be indie music - the sort of whining crap legitimised by talent vacuums like Travis, Coldplay, and the rest of their vile and unnecessary ilk - bands apparently spawned when one of the more pitiful Radiohead numbers copped off with U2 at the height of their flag-waving indulgence. It is something which strives to approximate the sound of that which was once vital, commodifies whatever vague remnants of artistic expression have survived the process, then sells the resulting homogeneous goop as lifestyle enhancement consumer product. It is the sound of a man crying onto his Ikea furniture, and it's fucking everywhere.

Back in the days when I had a job I would be subjected to hours of such moribund shite courtesy of Virgin FM or Capital or some such radio station. It was like being stuck inside an advert for car insurance, but just as the law of averages dictates that even Coldplay had one half-decent song, some respite was provided by Keane who somehow managed to do the same thing as Snore Patrol and all the other cockmonglers yet without making me want to hunt them down, knock their glasses from their shared face and take their dinner money. Often sounds heard echoing around the inside of a noisy warehouse may prove entirely unfamiliar when subjected to closer examination, but the tracks on this CD actually resembled the version of Bedshaped that once howled amongst the rafters of our sorting office and worked its way into my music gland; in fact it sounded better if anything.

Aside from the obvious absence of guitar, I'm still not sure what sets Keane apart from the other tossers, so it's probably songwriting or one of those non-quantifiable elements which can be difficult to evaluate unless it's conspicuously bad. Hopes and Fears isn't perfect - in places a little too smooth for its own good and lacking in contrast, but after a few plays you cease wondering how much better it would have been with Steve Albini producing and just let it work on its own merits. It's overwrought and hilariously introspective, probably, but then the same is true of many, many artists, and whether or not they get away with it depends on a whole ton of shit of the kind which distinguishes Joy Division from Ha Ha Tonka and similarly mannered MySpace clowns who really should have spent a bit more time coming up with a fucking band name. Against all odds, Keane get away with it providing you squint a bit and pay no attention to the marketing, at least in so much as Bedshaped is thus far one of this century's wrist-slashing classics, if you ask me. I wonder if any of the other albums were any good.

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