Keane - 'Cause and Effect'
‘Cause and Effect’ isn’t ‘Hopes and Fears’ part two, nor will it ever be. Keane are a different band and that’ll always be the case. However, ‘Cause and Effect,’ for all of its middle-of-the-road meddling is an album that sounds as magical as some of their earlier moments on occasion and ultimately is as close as we’re getting to the band’s golden days.
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Fifteen years ago, a quaint little trio from East Sussex quietly and subtly took the world by storm with their Coldplay-blueprinted post-britpop alt-rock on the mesmerising, masterful and otherworldly magnum opus, ‘Hopes & Fears.’ Since then, Keane have spent album after album reinventing themselves, almost self-indulgingly, to a point where they neither felt nor sounded like the band who brought us ‘Somewhere Only We Know.’

Having spent sometime apart to focus on solo projects and mid-life crises, Keane do away with the bludgeoning basslines, starry synths and crowd-baiting choruses and let the piano do the talking once more on their fifth album ‘Cause and Effect.’

Written in the midst of a mid-life crisis bookended by the breakdown of a marriage and a night in the cells, ‘Cause and Effect’ is a nearly-nostalgic middle-of-the-road rumble. Landing somewhere between the psychedelic melancholy of ‘Hopes & Fears’ and the anthemic big-room alt-rock of ‘Under The Iron Sea,’ Keane forget the intervening 13 years and two albums between them. There are glimmers of genius somewhere in the structures of the songs alongside a string of could’ve-been’s that leave you longing for the glory days of the mid-noughties, where some of these songs would’ve fitted far better.

Five-minute opener ‘You’re Not Home’ spends most of its time bathing in effervescent light, a positive by-product of the room to breathe their sound has finally been granted by songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley. Delicate keys pitter and patter as cascading dreamlike soundscapes surround your eardrums, succumbing minutes in to vocalist Tom Chaplin’s monochrome bellow. Whilst not a chronological retelling of Rice-Oxley’s mid-life meltdown, the simplistic imagery here opens the tale in the aftermath of the marriage breakdown, in the midst of the narrator’s uncertainty.

Follow-up ‘Love Too Much’ feels too predictable, leaning on spinning, whizzing pop-centric rhythms that jingle and jangle whilst ‘The Way I Feel’ is the sound of a band rediscovering their love of playing music together. There’s a lick of cliché running through ‘Cause and Effects’ lyrical paint, relying a little too often on repetitive rhyming couplets and well-trodden phrases: “and they say you should move on, but you can’t even get your shoes on.” Like with the opener, when they let the music live and breathe in its own space is when they hit the nail on the head.

There are moments where Keane drift into the sonic stylistics of ‘Hopes & Fears,’ particularly on ‘I’m Not Leaving,’ Rice-Oxley’s letter to his children’s future selves which sounds eerily similar to ‘Untitled 1.’ Unsurprisingly, it’s less a trip down memory lane and more an appropriate move towards a musical direction that suits their lyrical content.

The mid-album narrative-driven deep-dive of ‘Strange Room’ and ‘Stupid Things’ delves into Rice-Oxley’s very personal DUI arrest and marriage breakdown. The former flitters through the wind with one of Chapman’s finest vocal performances leading it hauntingly against a single, solemn set of keys whilst the latter brings the beat back up for a harmony-heavy happy-hour filled to the brim with pulsating piano lines and sensual synths. Although startingly different, both capture the raw emotion Rice-Oxley is so desperate to convey.

‘Cause and Effect’ isn’t ‘Hopes and Fears’ part two, nor will it ever be. Keane are a different band and that’ll always be the case. However, ‘Cause and Effect,’ for all of its middle-of-the-road meddling is an album that sounds as magical as some of their earlier moments on occasion and ultimately is as close as we’re getting to the band’s golden days.

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