Let’s use the opening lines from Keane’s “Can’t Stop Now” as a litmus test: “I noticed tonight/ That the world has been turning/While I’ve been stood here dithering around.” Consider also: In the second verse those last two words become “withering away.”
Very well. If you can imagine yourself tolerating the attached song, you may enjoy the Keane CD. (If you think those are lines of genius, it’s not my help you need.) If, however, this combination of pathetic self-absorption, forced naïveté, and precious lyrical placement leaves you nauseous, forget it.
OK, who’s left? Slightly shy people who listen to The Bends at least twice a year? Great, because the first three Keane songs contain most of what you love about the ‘Head—loud, propulsive drums, melodic bass, and a tenor who keens like Jeff Buckley (our other paragon of mid-’90s longing) and A-Ha’s Morton Harket. Plus the chord inversions, 4-3 suspensions, and changes that make you wonder whether the next sound could possibly be any more beautiful, and then, unspeakable joy (also anguish), it is!
Though strangely: no guitar, only piano. Which, strangely, doesn’t make them sound any more romantic, nor does it add interest to the other songs, which are either too slow, too genre, or too lyrically distracting—that “Who ate your heart?” is more Temple of Doom than Chapel of Love. I mean, c’mon guys, if that’s your cup of tea, you really need Dizzee Rascal.
Keane play Irving Plaza September 29.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 21, 2004