Pre-First Album Jitters And Keane
March 22, 2004 11:06 PM   Subscribe

Are You Ready To Be Heart-Broken? Sounding like the sprightly spawn of Radiohead, Coldplay and (yes) Queen, Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" is, imho, an enchantingly romantic song, lovely and over-ambitious in the tradition of, say, very early Aztec Camera, Ash or Travis. Thing is: their first album, "Fears and Hopes" (so appropriately named for those inured to pre-first-album-jitters) will be released in May and already I dread the disappointment I just know awaits me. Early promises in Pop music have so often been cruelly broken by follow-ups, "sloppy seconds", maturity, whatever, that I put to you that musical competence, technique and general "production savvy" are inimicable to good, dirty teenage songs such as Keane's. [Be sure to listen to the other three songs on the web site, although only the gist of the wonderful "Somewhere Only We Know" is offered. They're quite good!]
posted by MiguelCardoso (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe it would sound good if it didn't sound like a scrached up CD being played at the bottom of a swimming pool
posted by delmoi at 11:13 PM on March 22, 2004

Congratulations, delmoi - you just described great Pop music, from the Velvet Underground onward! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:15 PM on March 22, 2004

needs more cow bell :)
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:19 PM on March 22, 2004

What's the question here?  ~for lack of a better assumed purpose to this post.
posted by Witty at 11:21 PM on March 22, 2004

If Radiohead and Coldplay spawn, is that incest? Ain't they acoustical cousins? Their child would be Travis.
posted by Slagman at 11:28 PM on March 22, 2004

What's the question here?  ~for lack of a better assumed purpose to this post.

*clears throat, causing not a little disgust among the phlegm-wary crowd*

Well, Witty, the question would be, since I've been repressed into not using interrogation marks in my posts (and you probablly know how much I love them): "When was the last time you were disappointed by a great first (or second) single which then led to an awful album?"

The deeper, metaphysical question (I well know your interest in these ;) is "Are certain Pop bands condemned to their own immaturity and incompetence? How often do exciting new bands screw up the moment they actually learn how to play their guitars or get loaded with an anonymous hi-tech producer who'll squeeze all the innocence and genius out of them?"
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:35 PM on March 22, 2004

Why is it the producer's fault? This group sounds like part of the great British tradition of hyping up a melodic "successor to Radiohead" (now that Radiohead's all bleepy and scary) like Muse, Starsailor, etc which never quite seems to deliver in the long run. It's easy to throw some piano and reverb behind your acoustic guitars, but writing good songs is hard.
posted by Spacelegoman at 12:00 AM on March 23, 2004

...but writing good songs is hard.

Exactly... and all too often ignored.
posted by Witty at 12:03 AM on March 23, 2004

Oh god, please don't make me re-live the horror of the Stone Roses' second album. It's been ten years and I thought I was finally over the trauma. (The debut, though? Perfect, every single shimmering note. Just... perfect. *sighs*)
posted by scody at 12:04 AM on March 23, 2004

The sometime-indie-snob in me has to wonder how much that feeling of second-album disappointment is actually disappointment that the world at large has discovered "your" musical treasure. Which is, of course, deeply and truly fucked.

Also, is it just me, or does Keane's singer sound like the dude from the Darkness, minus the over-the-top falsetto hysterics?
posted by arto at 2:20 AM on March 23, 2004

...good, dirty teenage songs such as Keane's.

wha? Keane are pretty, sure, but you're asking to be disappointed by the album, if you set your hopes on this kind of tea-towel indie - I can't think of a cleaner, less teenage band. If you want something easy on the ear but a little more substantial you could try Sufjan Stevens or Lambchop...

The Keane tune's still all right, like.
posted by creeky at 3:15 AM on March 23, 2004

I saw Keane the other week and while the single is good I had that nagging feeling that they are going to be another Gene, a band lots of people admired but never really made it. The room was stuffed with yapping A + R idiots, always a kiss of death.

Dissapointing albums? Well, the polyphonic spree album was a huge let down after a great first single.

But for me there is only one true dissapointing album. I am a life long fan of saxophonist Lou Donaldon, searching through record stores wherever I go looking for old LPs of his (I met him once and he told me he'd recorded 76 albums, so I have a way to go). Imagine my joy when on a trip to Paris I find a Lou album I have never heard of. Imagine my horror when I get Color as a way of life home to discover it is the most dreadful crossover of jazz and disco ever made.

Oh the horror, the horror.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:56 AM on March 23, 2004

ciderwoman - you a funny man! Funnee!!
posted by dash_slot- at 4:49 AM on March 23, 2004

Using a Lloyd Cole song title on the link was an inspired choice, Miguel.

But I dunno, I've thought about this whole sophomore slump phenomenon for a while, and for every example I can think of there seems to be a counter-example. On the slump side, Ash and the Stone Roses, whose second albums were turkeys; on the other side, Radiohead, Muse, Travis, and Coldplay, whose second albums were all brilliant. And that's just bands mentioned in this thread. Inferring some kind of wider statistical significance seems misguided.

cf. Quintessential sophomore slump albums and 10 Great Rock Sophomore Albums.
posted by rory at 4:54 AM on March 23, 2004

Its a brutal fact, but the british mainstream music industry is obsessed with finding the new . Witness the hype about Snow Patrol and Damien Rice

And of course, they never will - I'm getting very tired of seeing and hearing 'the new x' on the cover of a magazine, or the radio. When will these idiots realise that we don't want the new x? Instead we just want new doesn't matter how good or bad it is, there will always be a tune for someone in there.

I'm loving the Keane song (hate the name fans will know why)...and the Starsailor and the Muse and the, and the... I don't always need to compare it to stuff thats gone before.

In terms of great new albums? Unfortunately comebacks seem to be wriggling to the top of Ipod playlist right now, David Byrne and Stephen Duffy are a couple, and creeky - I agree, lambchop.

posted by mattr at 5:59 AM on March 23, 2004

Kiss Me (with your mouth; your love is better than wine) Stephen Duffy?
posted by amberglow at 6:06 AM on March 23, 2004

I'm with scody and eminent others on this one - it's the second album that you've got to worry about. Two words: Massive Attack.
posted by dmt at 6:22 AM on March 23, 2004

good god. that was 30 seconds of suckage. (i refer to the audio portion) the video portion is, as has most "rock video" been since forever, just embarrassing. if i never see one more shot of confused looking blokes carrying a lone snare drum into an area that last saw electricity during the big nor'easter of aught-three i will be a happy man.
posted by quonsar at 7:24 AM on March 23, 2004

Dross outnumbers the diamonds. Always has, always will.

(And jeez, I'm starting to sound like jonmc or something.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:48 AM on March 23, 2004

But buying an album on the basis of one hook (unless you really, really like that hook and are willing to pony up $20 or however much a CD costs in Portugal) is just bad cost-benefit analysis, IMHO. Lots of albums have a musical idea or two that's catchy or interesting. Very few can develop those ideas, use them creatively, and deploy them in the service of well-written songs.

And ever fewer of those bands can make it through the cesspit of slime that is the contemporary music industry.
posted by Vidiot at 8:51 AM on March 23, 2004

I'd always wondered what happened to the Keane Brothers.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:26 AM on March 23, 2004

The album in question is terrible. Take it from me, I'm a professional music critic! ;)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:02 AM on March 23, 2004

Hey, I kind of like Damien Rice. Also the Decemberists, the Shins, the Coral and Grandaddy. Some of them will mature into something, some will not. What happens is a band like Radiohead cuts against the convention, then it becomes the convention and spawns imitators trying to sell albums, then some of the better imitators branch off to do their own thing, while others become the new sameness, until someone startling and original comes along that the kids like and the slightly aging hipsters glom onto also. I have watched this happen several times now. My friends were still listening to their old Talking Heads albums and Grateful Dead tapes and couldn't figure out what I saw in Nirvana. Now they are listening to their Nirvana MTV unplugged and have never heard of most of these bands, I'd wager. Maybe Radiohead and Coldplay. It is hard to stay current, and as you get older you get more discriminating, I think I hope. And the concerns of the young folks who sing pop songs are no longer as urgent to your life. I wouldn't mind some songs about peace, love and understanding, because there's nothing funny about that.
posted by Slagman at 10:34 AM on March 23, 2004

If Radiohead and Coldplay spawn, is that incest? Ain't they acoustical cousins? Their child would be Travis.

wasn't Travis around b4 Coldplay? anyway ...

the lead singer sounds remarkably like Fran Healey. i would have guessed this was a new Travis song.

Gene rules!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:37 AM on March 23, 2004

...but The Darkness' take on [.mp3] Radiohead's »Street Spirit (Fade Out)« is pretty great.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:04 AM on March 23, 2004

thanks much for that link, soundofsuburbia. (i didn't much like the cover, but i like free music!)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:49 AM on March 23, 2004

good, dirty teenage songs

fuck that noise.
posted by Satapher at 12:32 PM on March 23, 2004

it's the second album that you've got to worry about. Two words: Massive Attack.

Ah, now that's a great album, right up until the last track, where it takes a flying leap out of my record collection, and into oblivion. One of the few sanctioned applications of razor blade to record.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:13 PM on March 23, 2004

good, dirty teenage songs

fuck that noise.

*chortle chuckle giggle*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:56 PM on March 23, 2004

rory: I was disheartened to go to the 'quintessential slump' list, and find a) someone saying the Violent Femmes' 'Hallowed Ground' was a 'slump' album, and b) no one rising to their defense. Now, I am in no way a Christian, but it's still a brilliant fuckin' album, no questions asked. I mean, the thing starts with Country Death Song, and (almost) closes out with Black Girls. This album rocks! Goddamit!

posted by kaibutsu at 7:18 PM on March 23, 2004

Fair enough, kaibutsu. In the same vein, it sometimes feels like I'm the only person on earth who actually likes 10,000 Hz Legend.

Good to see that my Google search and link to it here has revived that thread!
posted by rory at 3:11 AM on March 24, 2004

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