When "Hopes and Fears" came out, I was a Keane apologist. Numerous reviewers compared them to Coldplay, and said terrible things like "derivative" and "guilty pleasure" about that album. I stand by my original assessment of it as a a wonderfully melodic album, and distinctive as a whole. Coldplay's albums tend to be largely ethereal, with an occasional hummable single like "Yellow" or the "Clocks" rising through the mist of sound, whereas "Hopes and Fears" is a whole album of singles. However, "Under the Iron Sea" is a lot like Coldplay. Imagine what the outtakes from"X&Y" sound like, and you've a pretty good idea of what this album is. The single everyone's playing, "Is it Any Wonder?" is a good song, a quite catchy and well written lover's lament: "sometimes I get the feeling that I'm/stranded in the wrong time/where love is just a lyric in a children's rhyme" but the rest of the album is largely atmospheric. In short, just like Coldplay.
I don't blame Keane for trying this formula, it garnered international superstardom for Chris Martin and his fellows. Chris even ended up married to Gwenneth Paltrow, and there are probably worse fates imaginable.
But the point is, I have to agree with earlier critics on this one and say yes, it's a good album, but you can't help but think of another band while it's playing.