Monday, June 26, 2006

Under the Iron Sea

  If U2 hadn't already released a pair of career retrospective discs, this British trio's second album would neatly do the trick in one. Not much of a surprise since Keane spent a good deal of time supporting Bono and company following the release their breakthrough debut, Hopes and Fears. From the melancholic "Crystal Ball" to the sinisterly beautiful "Is It Any Wonder?" (a blatant homage to "Zoo Station"), Keane have perfected their forebear's dark stadium-rock formula on their second album, all the more miraculous considering it was once again done without guitars. If Under the Iron Sea sounds considerably edgier than its predecessor, that's because it was recorded while the band was on the verge of splitting. But the friction has also given Keane a renewed sense of purpose, breaking the mid-tempo monotony with vibrant material such as "Nothing in My Way" and "Try Again": soaring songs that make the band sound unsinkable. -- Aidin Vaziri

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