Alan McGee was too kind to Coldplay.
When the guy behind the last scene-shattering label in Britain branded Chris Martin’s bland, clueless college-pop as ‘bed-wetter music,’ he missed the chance to truly tear into one of the most miserable excuses for an indie band that we’ve seen since the fucking Bluetones.
It’s a shame, because in the years that have followed, McGee’s Poptones label has slithered into oblivion while million-selling Martin’s boring, nice-boy rock now threatens to smother a music scene already crippled by the paralytic presence of angst-cobbled acne-rock (Linkin Park and Papa Roach), the shallow folksy dawdlings of Travis and the fashion-mag friendly scene-obsession of nu-garage.
Sure, I hate lazy comparisons. I’d love to blow apart every half-assed journalist who simply glanced over their press-release, heard the first insipid strains of Somewhere Only We Know and casually dubbed Keane the New Coldplay.
But are you sure you’ve never seen this before?
Just look at the evidence: the gooey-eyed admiration of Jo Whiley; the token ‘indie’ release with Fierce Panda that’s now reissued on a major and rotated on Radio 2 between Diana Krall and The fucking Corrs; pimping themselves around the student circuit hoping single Smiths fans will ‘get’ their sorrow-strewn piano dirges. It’s as though they read the book on How To Have Chart Success Even If You’re A Gutless Floppy-Fringed Virgin and followed its instructions to the letter.
Trouble is, Keane are joyriding on a wave of Sunday-morning student sorrow that erupted ever since Radiohead released Ok Computer and has been slowly diluted and deformed ever since to make it more manageable for the mass market. In the case of Travis, Coldplay, Haven, Starsailor and now Keane, this means that we’ve been force-fed bands with no desire to inspire or set fire to minds, just mumble meaninglessly in the kind of faulty falsetto that would make even the late Jeff Buckley hurl his guitar and tell them to stop whinging about their invented ex-girlfriends.
This isn’t indie snobbery; this is genuine despair at how long people are willing to go on devouring the same trite production-line lite-indie innocuousness in the face of a music scene that’s showing itself to be more exciting and diverse than it’s ever been.
And no, Keane aren’t a ‘bad’ band. They’re not interesting enough for that. But their sheer okay-ness, their inane niceness and inability to emote anything in their songs other than reciting a bunch of bland clichés about half-felt emotions is what should make them so utterly offensive. Music is supposed to incite reaction. Stir-up passion. And if a band can’t raise anything more than an apathetic shrug, then they should be hurled onto a burning pyre along with the rest of the say-nothing celeb-age crap.
So if you ever see singer Tom Chaplin and the rest of his gurning geek-boy friends shuffling around some indie disco looking for a tortured soul to write sad songs about, please tell him to take his drowned-rat whine, his hysterical, pompous grandeur and his snivelling, sobbing, guitar-less nappy rock back to his bedroom where it belongs.
We shouldn’t have to ‘make do’ with this. Music deserves better. Let’s hope someone delivers soon…
Later in the week, Anthony Gibbons explains why he loves Keane.