Sound — 7
Under The Iron Sea is a melodic and moody release that continues in the spirit of its predecessor. Keane is unique in that the piano, not the guitar, is the band's primary mode of rocking. Singer Tom Chaplin's clean vocals bring to mind other Brit rockers, most notably Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield, especially on "Put It Behind You". "A Bad Dream," "Crystal Ball," "Nothing in My Way" and "Broken Toy" also all possess Keane's solemn sound.
Lyrics — 7
Instead of writing about esoteric topics like labor negotiators from the '30s, Chaplin sticks to more standard pop themes, from love lost and found, to self-realization, and, of course, war and peace. Chaplin can deliver a self-effacing line like "I guess I'm a toy that's just broken/I guess we're just over now," because he is so unapologetically sincere. Elsewhere, "Is It Any Wonder" comes off as "Achtung Baby"-era U2, with its cranking opening guitar riff and stadium-ready groove. Not surprisingly, then, the album's thought-provoking lyrics and anthems recall another piano-driven outfit influenced by U2: Coldplay, a band with whom Keane is regularly compared.
Overall Impression — 7
Despite their keyboard-centric approach, there isn't anything especially distinct about Keane's sound, except that the group writes smarter-than-average catchy pop songs. Whether these tracks stand up to the test of time isn't necessarily the group's concern. They're out to write good songs, and with "Under The Iron Sea," this overachieving three-piece has done just that.