Unlike with their follow up album, most songs were already composed by the album's conception date; the track "She Has No Time" was composed circa 1999, making it the earliest composed song appearing on the album, and the remaining were composed just after former member Dominic Scott's departure in July 2001. Most of the album tracks were recorded during the Sanger sessions, from August to November of the same year. The tracks "On a Day Like Today" and "We Might As Well Be Strangers" became the last to be composed, circa 2003.
The album takes its name from the song "Snowed Under", released as a B-side on the single for "Somewhere Only We Know".
Hal Leonard music published two versions of the official score book for Hopes and Fears, designed for differing skill levels. The Music Sales Group also published a book, including two demo CDs with accompanying bass and drum tracks, along with scores for the B-side songs "Snowed Under", "Walnut Tree" and "Fly to Me".
The objects on the cover of Hopes and Fears are piano hammers in allusion to the band's characteristic piano sound. The many different versions of the album can be distinguished by the colour of the artwork. The original UK version has a dark green cover, the European version a black one, the US version white; the international version has a red-brown scheme, and the Japanese version is blue. The original British one includes the track "On a Day Like Today" and the Japanese "Allemande".
The typeface selected for this, and for all Keane releases off the album was the font "Cochin", designed originally in 1912. The modern italic design of the letters was also followed with similar fonts by some fansites, such as former British site Keaneshaped. The cover single "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" was, however, released with a different font, as it was released by the War Child website, not by Island.
|▼ CD 1|
|1||Somewhere Only We Know
|2||This Is the Last Time
|3||Bend and Break
|4||We Might as Well Be Strangers
|6||Your Eyes Open
|7||She Has No Time
|8||Can't Stop Now