Under the Iron Sea

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Under the Iron Sea
Studio album by Keane
Released 12 June 2006
Recorded April–August 2005 at Helioscentric Studios, Rye, East Sussex, October 2005 – February 2006 at The Magic Shop, NYC
Genre Alternative rock, post-Britpop electronica
Length 50:30
Label Island
Producer Andy Green, Keane
Keane chronology
Live Recordings 2004
(2005)
Under the Iron Sea
(2006)
Live 06
(2006)
Alternative cover
Cover for release with UK bonus DVD
Singles from Under the Iron Sea
  1. "Atlantic"
    Released: 24 April 2006
  2. "Is It Any Wonder?"
    Released: 29 May 2006
  3. "Crystal Ball"
    Released: 21 August 2006
  4. "Nothing in My Way"
    Released: 30 October 2006
  5. "A Bad Dream"
    Released: 22 January 2007
  6. "Try Again"
    Released: 9 February 2007

Under the Iron Sea is the second studio album by English rock band Keane, released in 2006. During its first week on sale in the UK, the album went to #1, selling 222,297 copies according to figures from the Official Chart Company. In the United States, the album came in at #4 on the Billboard 200, selling 75,000 units in its first week.[1] Since 22 January 2006 the album had sold over 3,000,000 copies worldwide.[2]

The band describes Under the Iron Sea as a progression from Hopes and Fears with electronic influences, describing the record as a "sinister fairytale-world-gone-wrong".[3]

Album history and information[edit]

After the release of their debut album, Hopes and Fears, Keane embarked upon a world tour that reached virtually all Europe and North America and which culminated on October 2005. As seen on Strangers, the band had been having trouble since the middle of 2004, shortly after the release of the debut. The suggestion "Hamburg Song" is about the bad-turned relationship between singer Tom Chaplin and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley – composed circa August 2004 – develops the focus of the conflict. During the tour, Rice-Oxley kept composing new songs that would later appear in future releases such as B-sides "Let It Slide" and "Thin Air". According to Chaplin, Rice-Oxley had composed at least 50 new tracks as of April 2006.

The name of the album is based on a lyric appearing on the track, "Crystal Ball" which reads "I've lost my heart, I buried it too deep, under the Iron Sea". It also shares title with the eighth track and Keane's first instrumental, "The Iron Sea". The "Iron Sea" is the metaphoric name for the group's (especially Rice-Oxley's) preoccupations about their uncertain future and the sudden fame they were having.

The album's title was announced by a handwritten note, signed by the entire band, reading:

Hello everyone, we just wanted to let you know that our new album is called "under the iron sea" and will be out on June 12th. Tom Tim Rich

"Nothing in My Way" (previously known as "Nothing in Your Way"), "Try Again" and "Hamburg Song" debuted between late 2004 and 2005 during the Hopes and Fears Tour. The two latter songs made their first appearance on Strangers, still on demo version while the first only appeared until the album's release. The three first singles, "Atlantic", "Is It Any Wonder?" and "Crystal Ball", were premiered at a secret gig in London on 5 April.

Notable changes from the previous releases by Keane during the Hopes and Fears era are the typeface and style of the cover art. Sanna Annukka, an artist from Brighton, designed the cover art for all Keane releases since March 2006, when this album's cover art was developed (on 14 March). The typeface also changed from the "Cochin" typeface used on the 2004 and 2005 releases. The newer font was specially designed for Keane (but no specific name was given apart from the "UTIS" fan-name).

Release[edit]

The first pre-release before the album was "Atlantic", which was issued as a download-only music video single on 25 April, featuring a specially extended version of the song incorporating the outro from album track "The Iron Sea". Irvine Welsh, author of the novel Trainspotting, directed the video, which was filmed in black and white on a remote Sussex beach, and did not feature the band. "Is It Any Wonder?" followed as the first single proper, out 29 May. Its video was directed by Kevin Godley, best known for his work on music videos for The Police and Duran Duran in the mid-1980s.

The record was released 12 June 2006 internationally. However, the album was accidentally put on sale for a few hours on 2 June 2006 by Apple Computer's Belgian iTunes Music Store, and while this was widely publicised as a leak of the album, no one on the band's messageboard was able to buy it in this time frame. A US edition of the album eventually leaked in its entirety to file-sharing networks on 5 June 2006, and the Mexican edition was released early on 9 June.

There was also a bonus DVD with a book-shaped cover representing a fairy-tale story, with drawings on the inner pages.

Musical evolution[edit]

This album marked the transition from the purely piano-driven songs that established Hopes and Fears to more progressive, sophisticated music, again without using guitars. All songs on the album and B-sides from the singles use these sounds. As seen on Strangers, Rice-Oxley creates these sounds using the distortion pedals and keyboards connected to the CP70 piano. The sound can be recreated by distorting the piano sound and combining with distorted Gothic chorus effect on a digital piano.

Perhaps one of the most notable changes on Under the Iron Sea is the effect pedal-created effects on several songs on the album, most notably "Is It Any Wonder?" and "Crystal Ball". The B-sides for single releases such as "Nothing in My Way" and "Is It Any Wonder?" are influenced primarily by electronic music, suggesting that the band keep experimenting with their music and testing new instruments.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (63/100)[4]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly A−[6]
The A.V. Club B−[7]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[8]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[9]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[10]
Q 4/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork Media (4.1/10)[11]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[12]
Billboard (Positive)[11]

Under the Iron Sea received generally favourable reviews from critics. Review aggregating website Metacritic reports a normalised score of 63/100, based on 24 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[13]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Tim Rice-Oxley, Tom Chaplin and Richard Hughes

No. Title Length
1. "Atlantic"   4:13
2. "Is It Any Wonder?"   3:06
3. "Nothing in My Way"   4:00
4. "Leaving So Soon?"   3:59
5. "A Bad Dream"   5:06
6. "Hamburg Song"   4:37
7. "Put It Behind You"   3:36
8. "The Iron Sea"   2:57
9. "Crystal Ball"   3:53
10. "Try Again"   4:27
11. "Broken Toy"   6:07
12. "The Frog Prince"   4:22
13. "Let It Slide" (Japanese bonus track) 4:12

The US version combines "Put It Behind You" and "The Iron Sea" into one track, 6:33 in length.

Bonus DVD[edit]

Videos[edit]

  1. Recording Under the Iron Sea – 23:55
  2. Short film set to an extended version of "Atlantic" – 6:01
  3. "Is It Any Wonder?" (video) – 3:01
  4. Making the Is It Any Wonder? Video – 7:50

Works in progress[edit]

  1. "Atlantic" (demo 29 January 2005) – 4:15
  2. "Is It Any Wonder?" (demo 31 March 2005) – 2:58
  3. "Nothing in My Way" (live from Aragon Theater, Chicago 19 May 2005) – 4:10
  4. "Leaving So Soon?" (demo 29 October 2005)
  5. "A Bad Dream" (demo 7 July 2005)
  6. "Hamburg Song" (live from Aragon Theater, Chicago 19 May 2005)
  7. "Put It Behind You" (demo 9 January 2005)
  8. "The Iron Sea" (Helioscentric recording session 9 April 2005)
  9. "Crystal Ball" (demo 7 July 2005)
  10. "Try Again" (live from Aragon Theater, Chicago 19 May 2005)
  11. "Broken Toy" (demo 30 August 2005) – 5:39
  12. "The Frog Prince" (demo 7 July 2005) – 3:44

Latin American tour edition bonus DVD[edit]

  1. "Atlantic" (video)
  2. "Is It Any Wonder?" (video)
  3. "Crystal Ball" (video)
  4. "Nothing in My Way" (video)
  5. "A Bad Dream" (video)
  6. The Making of 'Is It Any Wonder?' (video)

Taiwanese limited edition bonus DVD[edit]

  1. "Is It Any Wonder?" (video)
  2. "Crystal Ball" (band version)
  3. "Nothing in My Way" (video)
  4. "Atlantic" (video)
  5. The Making of 'Is It Any Wonder?' (video)

Hidden content[edit]

Inserting the CD whilst on the band's website at the Wayback Machine (archived June 12, 2006) allows you to unlock exclusive content including:

  • Original demo of "Atlantic"
  • A live recording of "Is It Any Wonder?"
  • Live video footage of "Atlantic" from the show at ULU
  • A free ringtone of "The Iron Sea" for mobile download (UK consumers only)
  • Wallpaper images
  • An exclusive Keane screensaver

Track information[edit]

"Atlantic"

"Atlantic" was the first single off the album, only a download video. It charted at number 35.

"Is It Any Wonder?"
"Is It Any Wonder" is the only Keane song completely composed using distortion piano effects pedals, is until the age, the only number 1 of Keane.
"Nothing in My Way"
The song was released as the fourth single of the album. It was previously called "Nothing in Your Way".
"Leaving So Soon?"
"Leaving So Soon?" was the last song composed for the album, in 2005. The song is considered as a fan favourite and it is the Keane song with the second highest tempo to date (144 bpm), next to "You Haven't Told Me Anything" (152 bpm) on the band's next album Perfect Symmetry. Written by Rice-Oxley, it has been rumoured that the lyrics are aimed at Tom after the band had an argument. It is also possible that they are aimed at the old member Dominic, who left before the band gained significant attention; "never had a chance to bloom".
It's a defense of the three of us in the band
"A Bad Dream"
This song was released as the last single from the album on early 2007.
"Hamburg Song"
"Hamburg Song" is the only organ-voice Keane song to date. The song is about Rice-Oxley's troubles with Tom Chaplin and how he feels. The song was premiered on 20 October 2004 as a demo. The final version was slowed down and the organ sound was changed a little. It doesn't feature drums but a few ride crashes on the outro.
"Put It Behind You"
Composed in mid-2004 because of Richard's break-up with his girlfriend. The song was first mentioned on Strangers by Rice-Oxley. A demo version of this song is included on the Under the Iron Sea DVD. During live performances of this song, the three members of the band sing on the main chorus, contrary to the album version, in which Hughes doesn't sing.
"The Iron Sea"
It appears as a demo on Strangers, with Tim playing it at the Helioscentric Studios. "The Iron Sea" was composed in 2004 by him. On the UK version, "The Iron Sea" is the eighth track but in the International version is a hidden song after "Put It Behind You". The outro was also used on the single version of "Atlantic". The place where the track title should be on the CD tracklist is marked as a change in the font colour (from dark blue to royal blue).
It's the key track of the record
"Crystal Ball"
This song was the third single released, charting at number 20.
"Try Again"
The song was released only in Germany as the fifth single from the album, on a 3 CDs maxi-single format.
"Broken Toy"
This is the longest song recorded by Keane on any of their releases, at 6:07 minutes in length (the longest song recorded is the rare track "The Happy Soldier" at 7:43). The song has split opinion amongst the fanbase, due to the fact it is a marked stylistic departure from previous Keane songs. This song was written by Tim to his bandmate and friend Tom.[14]
"The Frog Prince"
The closing track is a song about Johnny Borrell from the band Razorlight.

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Author unknown. "Kenny Chesney Scores Fifth Chart-Topping Album". billboard.com. 22 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Keane buoy album sales". Music Week. 19 June 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  3. ^ "MySpace: Keane". Retrieved September 2006. 
  4. ^ "Under The Iron Sea Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  5. ^ by MacKenzie Wilson (20 June 2006). "Under the Iron Sea – Keane". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  6. ^ Sinclair, Tom (19 June 2006). "Under the Iron Sea Review | Music Reviews and News". EW.com. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  7. ^ Murray, Noel (21 June 2006). "Keane: Under The Iron Sea | Music | Music Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  8. ^ a b "Keane – Under The Iron Sea CD Album". Cduniverse.com. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  9. ^ "Keane: Under The Iron Sea | Music Review". Slant Magazine. 19 June 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  10. ^ "Keane – Under The Iron Sea (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  11. ^ a b http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/reviews/album_review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002689459
  12. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2006/jun/09/popandrock.shopping6
  13. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/music/under-the-iron-sea/critic-reviews
  14. ^ Keane.at – Under The Iron Sea reviews[dead link]
  15. ^ Ayers, Michael. "Keane Boarding the Night Train This May". billboard.com. 26 February 2010.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Smile... It Confuses People by Sandi Thom
UK number-one album
18 June 2006 – 1 July 2006
Succeeded by
Liberation Transmission by Lostprophets