Keane - Hopes and Fears (Interscope, 2004)
Poking around the Virgin Megastore in Chicago last night, I ran across a sale price of $7.99 on this CD accompanied by a money-back satisfaction guarantee. This combination of offers combined with a quick scan on the listening station proved irresistable and I am happy to report that Virgin need not worry about a return. This is melodic pop music, thick and lush at times, sort of like Tears for Fears crossed with the Alan Parsons Project (the softer melodies like "Time"). The sound is keyboard based with bass, drums, and very strong vocals that don't hesitate to soar into falsetto, bringing to mind Brian Wilson; not that it sounds like the Beach Boys, it doesn't. There are likely many more reference points in British pop/rock of the 80's and 90's (Danny Wilson), but this is original and ear-friendly stuff. The quality seems consistent from first track to last. Based on first listen this sounds like a winner.