Fans’ album review winners 26 September 2006
Music journalist picks the best of your reviews

A few weeks ago, when we set a competition to send in the best live shot of Keane from 2006, we also asked those of you who hadn't been to a gig this year to write a review of Under The Iron Sea instead.

We wanted a music journalist to pick the winner and Alexia Loundras kindly agreed. Alexia is a music writer for the Independent newspaper and a Mercury Prize judge (you can read her March 2004 interview with Keane here).

WINNER - Claudia Pramono

This album is so aptly titled. It's still got that unique, comforting, and dreamy Keane piano sounds... but at some parts darker, colder, and grittier. Compared to this, the brighter Hopes & Fears sounds like Keane draped in Christmas lights. Yes, this time it's Keane, under the iron sea.
Atlantic signals the arrival of that darker side. This reappears in the middle of the album, an eerie instrumental piece called The Iron Sea, the coldest part of the album. It couldn't have been titled anything else.
First single Is It Any Wonder is a fast-paced number that should be spectacular to witness live. Second single Crystal Ball follows suit with its upbeat rhythm.
The album is a combination of calm waters at places and brewing storm at others. Tide in and tide out, it will take you on an adventurous sail bolstered by drifting piano sounds and Tom's mesmerising vocals.

Judge's comment: Claudia has written a very eloquent and objective review. She's put the band in context by referring back to their debut and has concisely compared their records - which isn't always easy to do. But what really impresses me about Claudia's review is her striking, evocative use of language and imagery. Using phrases like "the brighter Hopes & Fears sounds like Keane draped in Christmas lights" and comparing the sonic/emotional peaks and troughs of the album to the ocean in its title, she gives her review an immediacy and poignancy.

RUNNER-UP 1 - Jennifer Warren

The lads from Keane
Known for sweeping melodies,
Are back on the scene
With a brand new cd.
Still without a guitar
And with no holds barred,
They dug deep in their souls
To come up with something personal.
Despite troubling times
They would not admit defeat,
The songs are dark and cathartic
Yet still upbeat.
Songs of frogs and balls
Toys and dreams,
Seem simple enough
Yet have deeper meanings.
So without a doubt
A worthwhile effort from Keane,
Add to your collection
Under the Iron Sea.

Judge's comment: Jennifer's poem/review is delightfully original. She eschews the obvious to uncover the detail in the album, but still puts across the essence of the record in a way that shows a spark, playfulness and creativity.

RUNNER-UP 2 - Paola Andrea Guevara

Este es inexplicablemente maravilloso,tiene letras cautivadoras q te
toman y te hacen sentir especial en cada escucha, es un album unico, en cuanto a ritmo aparte de letras, es extraordinario,aquellos sonidos ayudados de palabras q no son solo eso, son sentimientos descritos a travez de un arte llamado musica, y un ejemplo claro de ello es keane con UTIS, q en mi caso nunca pense sentirme asi al escuchar una cancion, te hacen reir, llorar, e identificarte con momentos q solo piensas q tu has sentido,y vivido, te hace pensar q eres diferente, pero a la vez,q no eres el unico q siente, lo q siente el autor al escribir una cancion,porq ademas de siginficado, es sentir,y comunicarse con el.Es una gran obra de arte, con letras mas q extraordinarias, en definitiva, es mas q un album.

Judge's comment: Although my Spanish isn't fantastic, it's good enough to see that Paola's review immediately stands out for its unbridled passion. It's clear the record has moved her and she conveys this emotion very infectiously.

Well done to Claudia, Jennifer and Paola - and thanks to everyone who entered. Also thanks to Alexia for taking the time to read through the entries and provide her comments. Another competition is coming soon...
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