I very much dislike the role image plays in popular music. The idea that a bunch of glorified strippers like The Pussycat Dolls can get a record deal while some less telegenic artist labors in obscurity is just repugnant.
That said, I will admit that my first impression of Keane was based entirely on the appearance of lead singer Tom Chaplin in the video for their first hit, ‘Somewhere Only We Know.’ And it wasn’t a good one.
In the video, Chaplin wears a tight leather jacket with belted black jeans — in a forest [see screengrab]. This always struck me as incredibly stupid, and filled me with the urge to slap his doughy English face. A completely ridiculous reaction, I know, but I’m just being honest here.
The sad thing is that my dislike of the video kept me from recognizing that it’s a damn good song. Eventually I got over my issues and picked up the debut album, Hopes and Fears, which turned out to be excellent.
Like Ben Folds Five, Keane’s lineup is piano-bass-drums, but their sound couldn’t be more different. They are cut from the Coldplay mold, and it’s impressive that such a small band produces such a big sound.
‘Hamburg Song’ is not “big” by any means, musically. It’s the centerpiece track on their second album, Under the Iron Sea, and it’s about as simple as it gets — a piano tune that feels like it’s going to explode into a power ballad at any moment but thankfully never does. I like it so much I don’t care what the hell Tom Chaplin is wearing.