Keane arrived in our lives at a weird time for the music industry. When they came to prominence in 2004 with their debut album Hopes and Fears, they drew a lot of criticism for not having any guitars in the band. Granted this was usually from indie posers rebelling against them, but they seemed to gain a feeling of not fitting in anywhere. This didn’t stop them claiming the number one album spot and continuing their music prowess throughout the years. There’s always something about the underdog, they proved everyone wrong by writing great tunes, holding them up without the need for guitar. To be honest they probably would have fitted in better if they released their debut to the more genre mixing and matching industry of today, although that wouldn’t have made them much different from the rest of the crowd would it?
So here we are today and Tom and the boys have brought out their best of to remind us how good they are at writing the perfect catchy tune, and boy does it remind us. The album kicks off with two tracks that would instantly transport you back to the early noughties, with radio stations and music channels playing Everybody’s Changing and Somewhere Only We Know on repeat. Both perfect examples of Keane’s easy listening but catchy as hell style, backed up by Tom’s tried and tested vocals that fit the music perfectly. “Oh simple thing where have you gone? I’m getting old and I need something to rely on.” Instantly heart-warming and ominous.
Tom’s voice has a certain quality to it, when it’s at its best it can bring a tear to your eye. The best example of this is on track Bedshaped. It’s beautiful and sad in perfect synchronisation, the vocals coming from a solemn place that carry so much emotion it’s impossible to not get carried away by the track. Is it any wonder has a slight U2 tinge to it, being extremely prominent and defining. But the track does make you wonder why the band went to so much effort to make a piano sound like a guitar, when using a guitar would have been much easier. Perhaps two fingers up to all the haters.
Spiralling gives us a taste of a more recent Keane direction, bringing an 80s vibe with the usual Keane hooks, and even instances comparable to Madonna, a welcome addition to The Best Of Keane. The boys also seem to have the feeling in Spiralling of coming through the storm of difficult periods. With reports of band unrest and Tom’s stint in The Priory clinic it could have been a bad end for them, but they came out the other side more confident than ever, shown with lyrics such as “I made you in the image of myself”.
There’s a couple of tracks that don’t stand up to the test of time or don’t stand out at all, like the unoriginal Nothing in my way which just sounds like a mish-mash Keane song, but overall the album is testament to how easy it is to have a great collection of tracks if you have nothing but raw talent and excellent song writing.
The Best Of Keane reminds us how good they actually were, and still are, and were a welcome distraction when guitar music was going stale. This should be on everyone’s Christmas list, and if it isn’t, Keane won’t care too much, Lily Allen’s cover of Somewhere only we know on the British christmas advert will get them bucket loads of royalties anyway.