The English music press can never let anyone be. They're always quick to hail the next big thing and, in this case, the next big Coldplay
briefly held that title upon its debut release in 2001, but U.K. critics rushed to give that crown to someone else just because that's what they like to do. Keane didn't ask for it, but perhaps it's the overall majestic presentation of the band's debut album, Hopes and Fears, that does it. That and the fact that the Sussex trio doesn't rely on a formula of lilting melodies and feverish guitars to carry the weight of the album. Keane haven't positioned themselves to be kings of anything, let alone the next Coldplay. They sound nothing like Chris Martin
and Co. Sure, Coldplay's biggest hit to date, "Clocks," included only pianos, and they released the Safety
EP on Fierce Panda, which is also Keane's label, but those are the only things Keane have in common with Coldplay. Alongside their beautiful, emotive dalliance of instrumentation is one thing that'll separate Keane from all the rest, and that's drive. The band's heartfelt ambition on Hopes and Fears is right there. It's impossible not to reach for it, really. Lead vocalist Tom Chaplin
's rich vocals are as vibrant as any choir, and songs such as "This Is the Last Time," "Bend and Break," and "Can't Stop Now" reflect Keane's more savory, dramatic moments. Confidence bursts throughout, and for a band that has been around seven years and has never released a studio full-length album until now, achieving nearly epic-like status is quite impressive. Keane obviously have the songs and they have a strong voice leading the front; however, Tim Rice-Oxley
(piano/keyboards/bass) and Richard Hughes (drums) allow Hopes and Fears to come alive with glamour and without the sheen of slick studio production. Even slow build-up tracks like "Bedshaped" and "We Might as Well Be Strangers" are just as passionate, if not more so, than some of the bigger numbers on the album. Some might find Keane's debut a bit stagy, or too theatrical at first, but that's okay. Listening to "Somewhere Only We Know" alone a few times is more than enough to convince you that Keane stand next to Coldplay, challenging them, and it's a respectable match at that.