Formed: In 1997 in Battle, East Sussex, England.
Sounds like: A respectful embrace of modestly attractive thirtysomethings outside a well-scrubbed cafe in drizzling twilight as patrons mirthlessly clink near-lagers.
For fans of: Coldplay, Snow Patrol, twill peacoats, non-denominational holidays, artificial trees.
Latest release: On its fourth LP, Strangeland, the now-quartet retreats from brief flirtations with relevance—synths! Guest rappers! Guitars less buried in the mix!—and circles back to the painstaking blueprint that set the whole world pleasantly nodding.
Why you care: Ten million albums sold worldwide for artists seemingly born adult-contemporary should raise an eyebrow, and, however blessed by fortune—Keane's 2004 multiplatinum debut, Hopes and Fears, perfectly sated appetites midst a rare lull in Coldplay production—timing alone doesn't account for such massive sales. If the title of its first (and best, as these things go) album seems stolen from a dully practical self-help manual, the band's lyrical preoccupation with stability at all costs ennobles anesthetized emotions as slavishly as any antidepressant advertorial. The group has a knack for muted grandeur, one undoubtedly sharpened through early years softening U2 anthems as a piano-led cover band, and the absolute confidence with which it renders the vapid hummable evidently speaks to postmillennial unease. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the tensions of the American public, and though devotees must know on some level Keane plays the opposite of what we once called rock 'n' roll, a wide swath of folks prefer every act of consumption—especially listening—be made easy.
SEE IT: Keane plays Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., with Youngblood Hawke, on Tuesday, Jan. 8. 8 pm. $30 advance, $35 day of show. All ages.