Words: Darren Scott
Keane, arguably, are at their best when there’s turmoil.
Their debut album, 2004’s 'Hopes and Fears' was a break-up album, its follow-up, 'Under The Iron Sea', produced during difficult times for the band.
Now, 15 years later, their latest album has them go full circle and once more chronicle a break-up – this time with a very different perspective of having lived life.
'Cause And Effect' is a difficult listen – not because this comeback is for the wrong reasons or that they’ve lost the ability to be ‘relevant’ – but because it’s the most candid and most vulnerable they’ve possibly ever been.
Dark, sad and yet always beautiful, this album is just waiting to soundtrack your next break-up – and the subsequent recovery that you never see coming.
When Keane split in 2013, lead singer Tom Chaplin went on to release two solo albums. But songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley vanished from the public eye entirely for six years as his life fell apart.
The breakup of the band also played a large part in the breakup of his marriage – this album is the story of how he got to that point, and ultimately how he dealt with it.
It’s up there with 'Hopes and Fears' and 'Under The Iron Sea', while still dipping into moments of electronica from 'Perfect Symmetry' and collectively they’ve never sounded better.
Here’s our track-by-track guide to 'Cause And Effect':
You’re Not Home
“Think I can picture some new shape of life, but you’re not home”
A musical checklist of everything that’s not right when someone is no longer there and the pain of having nothing else to do than constantly check your phone in the hope something’s changed. This opening number plays to all their strengths, building into a crashing chorus.
Love Too Much
“Whether right or wrong, I did everything with love”
The second single – an upbeat number with an equally fun video that hides the sadness of the song. Celebrating everything that’s brilliant about falling in love – right up to the point where it’s gone too far and you can’t come back from it, however that might end up. But the overall message is one of positivity – no matter what happens, you can’t take away how much you loved someone.
The Way I Feel
“And it’s the voices in your head now / singing ‘there’s something wrong about the way I feel’”
The first single has a Killers-feel to it – which the band themselves acknowledge – and is in no way a bad thing. All songs are open to interpretation, and this feels like someone trying to give depression a kicking – no surprise if you feel life isn’t going the way it should be. A great, and welcome, comeback.
Put The Radio On
“You tell a lie / I’ll tell one too / It makes it easier to do”
A slow number, one of several that sounds like ‘classic’ Keane. The story of covering something up and denying responsibility. As the song soars, it carries you away, caught up in the harmonies.
“I woke up in a strange room / Time to start again now”
Hauntingly brilliant. One of the standout tracks from the album, inspired by events that saw Tim wake up in a police cell after drunk-driving. It just hits every nerve of when a relationship ends, and those startling moments of clarity when you know you’ve gone too far and things have to change. But also the ache when you momentarily forget that things have gone bad. This is wonderful.
“And you look like a joke and we’re both just playing along”
Single number three – and it’s instantly easy to understand why. Another immediate standout track. An anthemic chorus that lists all the traits of someone going off the rails, living a double life and the relationship that suffers as a result. Heartbreaking yet brilliant.
“We salvage the bits we can / And work on a better plan”
Another uptempo, singalong number, with some brilliant subtle electronica running through, acknowledging that we all just do the best we can – everything’s just phases...
I’m Not Leaving
“Hold my hand / Just like you used to do / I’m not leaving”
This really sounds like classic Keane. Great lead vocals – Tom Chaplin has never sounded better than on this album – complimented perfectly by the backing vocals and the building up by the band.
“Forgive me / Remember that I’m a good man / Just not good enough”
Starts as a piano-led ballad about hanging by a thread from a relationship, and builds into a chorus that aches for forgiveness. Anyone that’s been through the pain of a breakup and needing to try and explain the reasoning, yet knowing the other person won’t ever truly understand. Absolutely brilliant.
Chase The Night Away
“I guess I’m trying to say / You heal me like the light of day”
Finally, some hope for the future. The inevitable healing begins, learning to love once more. An upbeat, yet still heartfelt, piano-led song that fills you with hope as you sing along.
I Need Your Love
“Love me just a little and I’ll give you my life”
The standard album closes with a slow, but still anthemic, number – as the title suggests, this is about being unable to give up someone’s love. Who that person is, as the album closes, isn’t entirely clear – but isn’t that always the way in life?
The new album is out tomorrow (September 20).
Image by Jon Stone