Hopes and Fears is the debut studio album by English alternative rock band Keane. It was released on 10 May 2004 in the United Kingdom and topped the UK Albums Chart upon release. It was the second best-selling British album of 2004, behind Scissor Sisters' self-titled album, and has since been certified 9× Platinum by BPI. The album returned to the top of the charts after winning a Brit Award for Best Album in February 2005.
With more than 2.7 million copies sold in the UK, Hopes and Fears ranked the 11th-best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK. In July 2011, it was ranked the 9th biggest-selling album of the 21st century in the UK. Worldwide, the album had sold over 5.8 million copies as of November 2009.
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Mercury Prize shortlist nominees (number: 2004)
en: Hopes and Fears [info]
Although formed in 1997 - and Brit Awards winners as long ago as 2005 - Keane still feel like Johnny-come-latelies, so regularly and roundly are they dismissed as anodyne bandwagon-jumpers and pink-cheeked, Coldplay wannabes. It's not hard to scoff at an internationally successful group of middleclass white chaps from patrician East Sussex, whose debut album was an instant UK number one and whose subsequent ascent seemed to involve about as much horny-handed dues-paying as an ex-Etonian sauntering onto the front bench of the Conservative Party.
In fact, versions of Keane had been slogging away on the toilet circuit for years before being picked up for a single on indie imprint Fierce Panda, in 2003. That single, Everybody's Changing, gave the group their proverbial 'overnight' hit and a major label deal followed. So far so conventional, perhaps, but history tends to overlook the wilful unorthodoxy of early Keane. They were, let's not forget, a three-piece group who could afford the 'luxury' of a non-instrumentalist frontman and who eschewed guitars altogether.
Everybody's Changing - a universally accessible, 20-something whinge about being left behind by ones peers - remains the standout track on Hopes and Fears, the aforementioned chart-topper which was inescapable throughout summer 2004. On it, singer Tom Chaplin's bruised chorister's intoning comes across as not so much diffusion line Chris Martin as entry level Thom Yorke, with an added pinch of Bono and even a soupcon of Freddie Mercury in there for mainstream audience-sating good measure.
The album's under-heralded kingpin is Tim Rice-Oxley - his battery of keyboards providing chunky rhythm, chiming contrapuntal melody and pulsing low end on undeniably hook-laden, deluxe indie-rock anthems like Somewhere Only We Know and Bend and Break. Indeed, there is no shortage of song craft here, and only the closing Bedshaped seems to truly justify Keane's reputation for wetness - its lyrics of teenage diary self-doubt unmitigated by Oxley's odd, Theremin-like tones or Richard Hughes' vigorous drumming. Chaplin's wanly emoting falsetto, just about credible elsewhere, here sounds aggravatingly ersatz and it suddenly becomes clear why, while some would canonise Keane, others just want to give them a good slap.