The Fray
The Fray


2.0
poor

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
February 3rd, 2009 | 46 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If this was their debut, I would be convinced to award them a few more points with their solid grasp of pop hooks and workmanlike piano skills, but in truth their sophomore effort is practically identical to How To Save A Life.

It’s been almost four years since Denver-based piano-rock combo the Fray released their debut How To Save A Life, a fairly acceptable disc of mid-tempo “rockers” and MTV-pleasing ballads, and became multi-platinum superstars. Of course, after listening to their self-titled sophomore effort, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself thinking that no time at all had passed. The piano is still the centerpiece of the band’s sound, pounding out chords in accompaniment to the stadium-ready drum parts and unexciting bursts of guitar. Singer Issac Slade still sounds like he has a perpetually sore throat and still spouts high-school poetry like “man was born to trouble like sparks fly upward, innocent” (“Absolute”) or “happiness is a firecracker sitting on my headboard” (the sublimely-titled “Happiness”).

During the course of this album I often pondered questions that I had, in fact, struggled with during my last encounter with the Fray in ’05, questions like: or “Is singer Slade really still this unhappy after becoming one of pop-rock’s most successful radio acts?” or “Will the Fray ever consider speeding up the monotonous tempo they have sold millions of records on?” or even “How many interchangeable minor-key melodies can one man take before simultaneously combusting with sorrow?” Alas, the answers are, respectively, “yes,” “no,” and “possibly.”

Single “You Found Me” is the kind of piano-based, optimistic single that is the Fray’s bread-and-butter and a song that will assuredly grace multiple high school proms across the country, heartbreakingly earnest and totally uncompromising. Unfortunately, I couldn’t distinguish it from the opener “Syndicate,” another piano anthem in the lyrical vein of previous hit “How To Save A Life.” Nor were either of them much different from the frantic “Say When,” or the somber “Ungodly Hour,” or the fast-paced “Absolute,” although the handclaps on that latter are an admittedly nice touch. The hooks are all there; the same melodies that sold millions of records are all nicely in place, brushed up and polished to studio perfection; the originality, however, is not.

To be fair, there are a few attempts by the band to branch out of their comfort zone, however lackluster they might be. “We Build Then We Break” is the most obvious one, building off a buzzing synth line and a pulsing drumbeat rather than the omnipresent piano. It’s also the best, a song that messes with the Fray’s signature sound, introducing a sweet little guitar lick here, a spacey synth twirl here, and soaring vocals that contribute to the haunting atmosphere of the song. And the entirely out-of-place instrumental breakdown at the bridge and droning climax are awesome simply because it’s totally separate from the rest of the album. The Fray can do different, and this should give listeners hope after they’ve digested all the middle-of-the-road piano rock they can handle.

Artists have been excused of making the same album over and over again, and some for good reason, but few have gone about it as blatantly as the Fray. If this was their debut, I would be convinced to award them a few more points with their solid grasp of pop hooks and workmanlike piano skills, but in truth their sophomore effort is practically identical to How To Save A Life. They will make millions, they will rule the radio for the next year or two, and that will be probably be all the reason they need to keep doing the same thing over and over again. Welcome to modern pop radio.



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user ratings (186)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
J. Ponton EMERITUS (3.5)
Weird. Somehow the album I'm listening to must be different from the one you guys heard....


Comments:Add a Comment 
roofi
February 3rd 2009


959 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Basically exactly the same as How to Save a Life, except there's no great single like "Over My Head."

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2009


10455 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Quite the truth.

Digging: Cymbals Eat Guitars - LOSE

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2009


7343 Comments


Great review. I never heard their first, but despised all of the singles from it, so there isn't a hope of me getting this.

Asiatic667
February 3rd 2009


4648 Comments


Stuff this loser band, I want their careers dead, man they just suck in ultrasound they're so band.

except there's no great single like "Over My Head."

Except that that song is horriffic garbage of holocaust proportions.
I equate "How to save a life" with greys Anatomy-- they just
HAD to couple worst song of the year with worst show of the
century.

roofi
February 3rd 2009


959 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

not to overstate opinions or anything

Asiatic667
February 3rd 2009


4648 Comments



not to overstate opinions or anything



well yeah, if you liked Over My Head, that's cool ;)
I just tend to get a little overexcited sometimesThis Message Edited On 02.03.09

HeadbangMastermind93
February 3rd 2009


624 Comments


lol well said Asiatic...well said

Knott-
Emeritus
February 3rd 2009


10197 Comments


after first track thought i might actually get on with this
but fuck me what a shit album.

foreverendeared
February 3rd 2009


14678 Comments


i loved their singles

Knott-
Emeritus
February 3rd 2009


10197 Comments


so did i last time around fe.
but this is baaaaaaaad.

CokeZero
February 3rd 2009


39 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I enjoyed this album actually. I'm sorry, but this is way more consistent than their debut. They obviously aren't trying to be innovative, its a pop group, so they made a pop record, and i think they could easily have 5-6 hits off of it.

Boognish
February 4th 2009


1003 Comments



Vocals are terrible

Asiatic667
February 4th 2009


4648 Comments


Vocals are terrible

They usually make songs more interesting though


LegalDuck
February 7th 2009


64 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

over my head was so good.
everything else they´ve done is just terrible

ArmorForMusic
February 14th 2009


42 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this album is getting WAY too much crap. What more could you ask for? I don't see how it's so mediocre. I gave it a five just to boost the rating in reality it's probably a 3.5

TricksterGRex
February 14th 2009


2087 Comments


Dumb reason to give it a 5.

Tom2704
February 15th 2009


15 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not surprised they released a How To Save A Life Vol. 2 as that's what everyone was expecting and wanting from a mediocre band as The Fray. I quite enjoyed the first half of the album but the second half just seemed rushed. I accept this album for what it is: the album for relationships and heartbreaks.

Vano
April 6th 2009


94 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Pretty much a whiny, monotonous version of Coldplay. How did these guys get signed?? They're more generic than store-brand dish washing fluid. When I hear them on the radio, my ears literally hurt.

Waior
April 6th 2009


11452 Comments


I love the Fray. Revoke my metal cred.

Mmm.

NewYorkZoo
July 3rd 2009


95 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

definitely wanted to write a review for this album, but you pretty much covered everything i wanted to say. spot on job. its definitely good the fray music for when you're in the mood for the fray. and that's about it.



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