Album Review: Cause and Effect, Keane

Music has the ability to invoke a multitude of emotions, ranging anywhere from pure bliss to invasive sadness. Keane, a British rock band, conjures every emotion on the spectrum in their latest album Cause and Effect. This album ties elements from their former records to generate a refreshing collection of songs webbed with familiarity. Known for their intimate melodies, Cause and Effect is an album true to its title through the experimentation of melodic concepts that are guaranteed to make you laugh, smile, and cry simultaneously. 

Songs like “Love Too Much” utilize repetition within the melodies to produce little hooks that you can’t stop singing: “Felt it all/gave it all/drank it all;” “Want it all/Take it all/Got it all;” “Got it all/Got it all/Got it all” (found at the end of each verse) and “Nothing can take that away from me” (the end of each chorus). These recurring pieces to the song snuggle their way into the listener’s head.

Cause and Effect showcases the brilliancy of Keane’s songwriting by intertwining the instrumental with the vocals. For instance, the keyboards in “Phases” maintain a playful staccato throughout the entire song while the verse melody mimics this rhythmic instrumental element through the lyrics, but through legato notes: “Always on the outside/Fingers clinging on so tight/Kicking at the window/Dreaming of a better life.” This technique envelops the listener, adding a balance to the song through the contrast of staccato vs. legato while maintaining that complementary rhythm between the instrumental and vocal melody. 

Similarly, each song builds upon epic verse vs. chorus dynamics: The verse of “The Way I Feel” accelerates in the chorus in such a way that the chorus becomes monumental. The verse begins with a basic melodic pattern that doesn’t range throughout the pitch- while this could be viewed as boring, it is actually quite clever. The verse doesn’t play around with variation because it is allowing the chorus to stand out. Additionally, the last two lines of each verse has minimal instrumental with a clapping pattern and the first line of the chorus “And it’s the voices in your head now,” picks up with an intense drum fill and increase in pitch, which contrast each other so that each section of the song is highlighted when pieced together.

The progression of each track on Cause and Effect adds a flair of originality. “Strange Room” remains at a lower, less active (energy and pitch-wise) state throughout the beginning of the song, but as it progresses, activity erupts with haunting melodies and escalations in pitch, just to bow down to the quiet piano once again. 

This element is seen in “You’re Not Home,” as well. The track starts with a different instrumental pattern that eventually cuts out to be followed by mellow harmonies and a change of scenery instrumentally. But in the last minute of the song, simplicity is met with complex bursts of energy. These shifts in energy accentuate the emotional value of the tracks by developing a wide range of emotion through the even wider range of progression.

Vocally, Keane always nails it. The vocals are the equivalent to warm maple syrup- smooth, delicate, delicious. Obviously, Cause and Effect is no different than any of their other albums in this department, but I want to point out mesmerizing harmonies. In “Stupid Things,” the chorus is jam-packed with layered vocals to exaggerate the emotional story-telling element of the song. This track conveys guilt and confessions, which the harmonies clearly portray through the contrast of vocal points. Likewise, in “I’m Not Leaving,” the harmonies act as a catalyst in an already heartfelt song. The vocal arrangement digs deep into the listener’s soul, causing some healthy tears to well up. 

Notorious for clever songwriting hacks and soulful content, Keane never fails to impress, and this carries over to their latest album. With deep cutting melodies, symphonetic instrumental, and liquid gold vocals, Cause and Effect is an absolute MUST-ADD album to your everyday playlist.