Hopes and Fears (Interscope)

With Coldplay mired in the studio or busy with dirty nappies, courtesy of Chris Martin's fruitful little bundle of joy, what's a fan of weepy, piano-heavy Britrock to do in the meantime? Why, listen to the Irish trio Keane, whose debut recently staved off Morrissey to remain the U.K.'s No. 1 album.

In addition to the 'Play, Keane borrows heavily from other super-sensitive blokes: The dewy-eyed chords and dramatic chorus of "Bend and Break" takes its epic swoons from Echo & the Bunnymen's "Lips Like Sugar," and Oliver Chaplin's world-weary vocals make "This Is the Last Time" sound like a lost Travis B-side. The latter half of the disc is stuffed with slow tempos and dull instrumentation, and has a few Eurosynth clunkers that sound like yuppie bar trifles. But then it picks up again with the fantastic finale "Bedshaped," whose chorus is a towering mix of synth burbles and youthful optimism that ascends like a Broadway show-stopper.


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