If you’ll indulge the crass stereotyping for a moment, there’s one thing the Brits do better than anyone else bar the Swedes. Blighty is a bottomless wellspring of massive, dramatic pop music (see: Radiohead, Oasis, Queen, Manic Street Preachers, Coldplay, Smiths and on and on). It’s in the water. That’s sometimes easy to forget in the rapid-cycling psychosis of music trends that coughs up transatlantic sputum like Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters and rock sop like the Darkness. So it’s good to be reminded sometimes of bands like Keane, a little trio of goofy-looking dudes from Sussex that relies on one dude (Tom Rice-Oxley) to play piano and bass, one dude to marshal the beat (Richard Hughes) and one to vocally wear his heart on his sleeve (Tom Chaplin). Now, time will only tell whether Keane can match the chops of their above-mentioned arch-pop forebears, but Hopes & Fears finds the 7-year-old trio perfecting the kind of undeniable (if occasionally formulaic/overly familiar) odes to heartbreak, isolation and redemption that make rainy days tolerable and temper sunny days with a blissful sense of vulnerability. Sure, “She Has No Time” sounds like Bends-era Radiohead with the crusts cut off. Indeed, Chaplin’s voice finds itself a Frankenstein’s döppelganger of the ’Head’s Thom Yorke and Freddie Mercury. And sure, opener “Somewhere Only We Know” sounds like it could easily be a summer-fest anthem as much as a parenthetical inclusion in a near-miss teen dromedy. It’s not too late to get your lighters out, people.
E-mail Chris Handyside at firstname.lastname@example.org.