Keane are probably the most unlikely nostalgia act to re-emerge for a new millennial audience over the last few years. Just watch their set from this year’s Glastonbury, or keep and eye on any late night house party shuffle through Spotify, and you’ll see 20-somethings remembering that the band’s 2004 debut album ‘Hopes & Fears’, the one their mums played to death in their cars, actually really holds up.
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It’s a good time, then, for the band to re-emerge with ‘Cause and Effect’, their first new studio album in seven years. After public battles with addiction and a fraught six year hiatus (which also spawned a middling solo career from frontman Tom Chaplin), ‘Cause and Effect’ is billed as the band’s redemption record, following both Chaplin’s struggles with addiction and a break-up that principle songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley went through.
Musically, the album hits in all the right spots, solidifying their expertise at penning sunny, earnest Radio 2-core. And when they deviate from the easier path, most notably on the slow, deeply sombre ‘Strange Room’, which sees Chaplin’s voice take on a genuinely affecting, downtrodden lower tone, ‘Cause and Effect’ begins to exist as more than a comeback album for the sake of a comeback album. Even some of the cringeworthy rhyming couplets that Chaplin throws out (“They say you should move on / But you can’t even get your shoes on,” he belts on single ‘The Way I Feel’) are given more weight due to their genuinely traumatic birth.
It’s kind of hard to remember that Keane have notched up four consecutive UK Number One albums in the run-up to ‘Cause and Effect’, and when reminded you’re of that statistic, it becomes even more impressive that they stepped outside of their easy, comfortable box for this new album.
Managing to solidify their existence as a pretty-damn-big-band in their own circles, as well as flirting with kinds of experimentation that many of their peers wouldn’t go near, the record shines with a redemption that you’d have to be pretty cold-hearted to not smile at.