When I first heard of Keane, I though what a fresh idea; a three piece band with no guitars instead just a piano to drive the melodies with drums being the lone part of the rhythm section. But as soothing as Somewhere Only We Know was, I only found it as background music at best, and like most America, lost interested making Keane a good candidate for one hit wonder land. And that was almost the case as the band almost split up in between albums.
That animosity clearly shows up on the album that nearly spawned the split and Under the Iron Sea is much darker from what I expected. The tone is set with the dark Atlantic that opens the disk. The mood builds and builds after a new creepy layer is brought starting with the piano, then the drums and other atmospheric sounds until it all comes crashing down when the vocals arrives only to build up once again. But the atmospheric mood quickly gives way to arena rock with the pompous Is it Any Wonder? The real wonder is how the three of them are able to create some much noise with the absent of guitars (and when it comes to arena rock, noise in a good way).
For those looking for a rehash of Somewhere Only We Know, don’t look for it on this album. Nothing in the Way starts off with what sounds like the same piano chords, but the song quickly becomes more edgy. But the chip on their shoulder vibe does wear thin after awhile making for a long fifty minute album. Hamburger Song and Try Again are the rare tracks where the band slows things down reminiscent of the former mellow self. Most of the songs sound like Coldplay channeling Pink Floyd but without the diversity. Maybe next time next time Keane should bring in a guitar for a song or two to spice things up for the next album. Well that's if they don't implode by the time that happens.
Song to Download - Is it Any Wonder?
Under the Iron Sea gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.