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Keane's piano-driven pop/rock cemented them as one of the best-selling and most-beloved bands in U.K. history. Debuting in the early 2000s as part of the wave of post-Coldplay sensitive indie that crashed the mainstream, their first album, the anthemic Hopes and Fears, was a commercial and critical success that endured well beyond its 2004 release, pushing darker sophomore effort Under the Iron Sea to the top of the charts in the U.K. After capping a successful decade with the synth-driven, Bowie-indebted Perfect Symmetry (2008) and its worldly companion EP, Night Train (2010), the quartet entered a period rife with personal struggle and uncertainty that resulted in an extended hiatus following the release of their fifth straight chart-topper, 2012's Strangeland. Addiction, divorce, and multiple side projects kept the spirit of Keane alive for much of the 2010s, while devoted fans held onto the hope that they would eventually return. In 2019, the band made their comeback with fifth LP Cause and Effect, their first studio full-length in seven years.
The band initially comprised vocalist Tom Chaplin, drummer Richard Hughes, and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley, three childhood friends from the small town of Battle in East Sussex, England. Formed in 1997, the group started out as a college-aged cover band. Guitarist Dominic Scott was also part of this early incarnation, having previously played cover songs with Hughes and Rice-Oxley in a band named the Lotus Eaters. Keane toured the East Sussex circuit for several years while internalizing the epic sounds of their set list, which included songs by Oasis, U2, and the Beatles. The quartet began performing original material in 1998, although Chaplin left for Edinburgh University shortly thereafter to study art history. The move proved to be brief, as he returned to London in 1999 and doubled his efforts with Keane.
Buoyed by Chaplin's tenor vocals and Rice-Oxley's inventive keyboard effects, the group made its studio debut in 2000 with a self-released single, "Call Me What You Like." "Wolf at the Door" followed one year later, but the band still struggled to find its momentum as Scott left the lineup in July, leaving the band without a guitarist. Keane continued performing as a trio and happened upon their big break in December 2002, when Fierce Panda Records representative Simon Williams (who had helped discover Coldplay several years prior) was summoned by a friend to attend a Keane gig in London. Williams was impressed with the band's performance and offered to issue Keane's next single, "Everybody's Changing," on the spot. The limited-edition release became a success on U.K. radio and attracted attention from major record labels, several of whom began to swarm around the group.
Keane signed with Island in 2003 and released "This Is the Last Time," the band's final single for the Fierce Panda label, before the year was up. They made their major-label debut one year later with Hopes and Fears, which hit the top of the U.K. album charts during its first week of release, beating out Morrissey's You Are the Quarry. The ballad "Somewhere Only We Know" became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and Keane received two Brit Awards (for Best Breakthrough Act and Best Album 2005) while earning a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. The album went on to become the second highest-selling record of the year in the U.K., barely losing out to Scissor Sisters' debut. By the end of the decade, it was recognized as the ninth best-selling album of the 2000s in the U.K.
Their stars rapidly rising, Keane opened several shows during U2's 2005 tour in support of their debut, which was followed several months later by the Live Recordings 2004 EP. When it came time to return to the recording studio, the band once again enlisted producer Andy Green and fashioned a darker album titled Under the Iron Sea. Arriving in 2006, it debuted at number four on the Billboard Top 200, topped the U.K. charts, and spun off one of the band's most successful singles to date with "Is It Any Wonder?," as well as "Crystal Ball," "Nothing in My Way," and "Bad Dream."
For their next project, Keane chose to pursue a different direction, returning in 2008 with a slightly retooled sound -- including the presence of electric guitar -- and a new album, Perfect Symmetry. The synth-packed effort was their third straight number one in the U.K. and spawned the hit single "Spiralling." Two years later, they issued the companion piece Night Train, an eight-song EP featuring collaborations with the Canadian-Somali rapper K'NAAN and Japanese artist Tigarah that was recorded while the band was on the road promoting Perfect Symmetry. The worldly set was also notable for bringing Rice-Oxley to the fore as vocalist for "Your Love." As this era came to a close, Rice-Oxley and bassist Jesse Quin promoted their side project Mt. Desolation with a tour in support of their self-titled debut. When that wrapped, Keane got back together to record their next album.
Released in 2012, Strangeland married Perfect Symmetry's use of guitars and über-pop sensibility with the anthemic, piano-led sound prevalent on the band’s first two albums, particularly Under the Iron Sea. Singles "Silenced by the Night" and "Sovereign Light Cafe" became modest U.K. hits, but would be their lowest-selling effort to date. Following an international support tour, Keane delivered The Best of Keane collection -- which compiled previously unreleased singles, a collection of B-sides, and their most well-known songs -- before going on a hiatus that would last almost a decade. During that time, Chaplin spiraled into addiction, emerging years later in 2016 with his solo debut, The Wave, which charted the course of his struggles and recovery efforts. He also released a holiday album Twelve Tales of Christmas. Meanwhile, Rice-Oxley and Quin delivered another Mt. Desolation album, When the Night Calls, in 2018. Rice-Oxley was also in the midst of his own real-life troubles, including a painful divorce, which heavily informed Keane's big comeback.
Seven years after their previous album, Keane returned in 2019 with their fifth effort, Cause and Effect. Masking the pain of the lyrical content, the LP featured typically soaring sonics that extended Strangeland's matured pop sheen and dipped back to familiar tones from their 2000s heyday. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Andrew Leahey
- East Battle, Sussex, England
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