sun 14/07/2024

CD: Keane - Cause And Effect | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Keane - Cause And Effect

CD: Keane - Cause And Effect

Tim Rice-Oxley's break-up reunites his band with songcraft and synth-pop

Keane were always the best of that post-millennium Coldplay crowd. Tim Rice-Oxley showed adult craft in his lyrics and keyboard textures on their 5 million-selling debut, Hopes and Fears, where the small-town specificity of Battle, Sussex’s biggest band lifted singer Tom Chaplin’s yearning.

Six years after they effectively broke up, this fifth album’s title announces itself as a sequel, dissecting Rice-Oxley’s divorce (foreshadowed in 2012’s Strangeland) with forensic relish.

“You’re Not Home” describes the split’s aftermath like that of a neutron bomb: “bike wheels still turning” on the back lawn as “wind blows through the downland”, the air still moving from a last leaving, the absence heavier than presence. “I stare into my phone, phone, phone,” Chaplin sings, stuck, stuck, stuck, till a giant chorus kicks in.

Six years after Keane effectively broke up, this fifth album’s title announces itself as Hopes and Fears' sequel

“Put the Radio On” is still more powerful. Its chorus’s grand, creamy ache is built to conquer radio playlists, like most songs which mention the medium. But its verses darken and invert this tradition, as the booming radio the chorus simulates masks an affair’s frantic furtiveness. “Strange Room” then zooms in on Rice-Oxley’s intimately resonant piano, for a ballad about fading sensory traces in the place where he once loved, and wrote “song after song” (songcraft as distracting salve is a running theme). Imagining it as a crime scene, the ex-public school pop star forestalls all charges: “Officer let me explain/I lost something I loved/Yeah I know what it looks like/A rich man with a good life...”

Chaplin’s voice, once a choirboy soprano, is appropriately weathered for this album’s storms, though his Art Garfunkel-like enacting of his partner’s heartbreak feels especially stretched. As for Rice-Oxley, there’s some special pleading for his fuck-ups, but also measured insight into love’s complex, fragile equation. The repeated decision to thread such tremulous emotion through Hi-NRG-like synth-pop resonant of Abba, Erasure and a more chaste Soft Cell is arguable. As breakup albums go, Cause and Effect is still closer to Peter Hammill’s traumatic Over than Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling” on Ghost Stories. And, as has been the case since “Somewhere Only We Know”, there is a sense of place. We stay locked in a devastated home amidst pretty South Downs villages, and their private quiet. 


Chaplin’s voice, once a choirboy soprano, is appropriately weathered for this album’s storms


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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