The Fray
The Fray


3.5
great

Review

by Jared Ponton STAFF
October 21st, 2009 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Weird. Somehow the album I'm listening to must be different from the one you guys heard.

The Fray is one of those bands that tends to get beaten around a lot in the music underground. Be it their mainstream style of piano-tinged ballads, the vocal crooning of Isaac Slade, or just the sheer amount of success the band has had in their current career, something about The Fray has caused the more elite music audience to sneer and cast criticism on the band’s music that I find misplaced. The band is haphazardly thrown into a category of music that includes the Jonas Brothers, Nickelback, Simple Plan, etc. in which these bands are subject to an unfair amount of critical bias (though being arguably deserved in some aspects). A new album from one of these bands in question is then immediately panned and obliterated by critics or possible fans that enter the listening process with plugs already installed within their ears. Any possible redeeming qualities of the music is then immediately lost by these listeners and subsequently thrown out the window.

Such is the case with The Fray’s self-titled album. Upon first listen, critics are met with more of the same that was found on the band’s major label debut, How Save A Life, and as a result, that same unfair critical bias mentioned above comes into play. The album is then immediately dismissed as trash and boring material just after one listen (if that much in some cases). This is rather unfortunate in truth, as those same listeners are actually missing out on one of 2009’s most consistent mainstream pop releases.

As mentioned above, The Fray incorporates more of the piano-rock style that was found on their debut. This time, however, the band refines the edges and goes for a more cohesive and complete-sounding album. The best example of this can be found in a comparison between the first two singles, “You Found Me” and “Never Say Never”, and the other songs to be found on the album. Surprisingly, songs like the uplifting opener “Syndicate”, the power-packed choruses that can be found in “Absolute”, or the retrospectively emotional narrative of “Enough For Now”, can stand toe and toe with these mainstream singles, even arguably surpassing them in quality as well. The other songs found on the album turn out to be no slouch as well. “Say When” offers an intimate discourse between Issac Slade and an unnamed woman, and “Happiness” may be the best song the band has ever written. The song starts acoustically over profound, albeit ambiguous lyrics about the subject of happiness before climaxing into a guitar and choir explosion that appropriately concludes the album. These songs are a fresh step for the band and have me wondering if past critics actually listened to the whole album all the way through.

I used to subject bands to a similar negative bias if they were mainstream in nature or lacked a certain technical flair in skill as well, but I have recently learned that gold can be found from records like this too. It is somewhat difficult to rank and gauge mainstream pop albums; the only thing you can look for really is strength in lyrics, consistency of possible singles, and on rare occasions, sheer innovation. The Fray’s self-titled proves adequate in the subjects of their lyrics, spectacular in the consistency of their singles, but unfortunately, does not shoot for any innovation whatsoever. The lack of the last aspect may be why so many critics look down on the band, but as far as consistent pop records go for 2009, you are going to be hard-pressed to find an album that delivers more of a consistent set of pop rock songs than those to be found on the Fray’s self-titled.



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user ratings (197)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Rudy K. STAFF (2)
If this was their debut, I would be convinced to award them a few more points with their solid grasp...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


This album gets too much hate on this site or most sites for that matter.

DiceMan
October 21st 2009


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah lots of people hate this. I didn't think it was that great but it just doesn't seem to be that phenomonal either. It's still worth a couple listens. It just seems to go slow at some points imo.

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Absolute and Enough For Now really need to be future singles

DiceMan
October 21st 2009


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The lyrics of Absolute are obnoxious to me. But Enough For Now was actually really good. Like, if I heard it outside of the cd it would be really excellent. I just think that it kind of mixes in to the rest of the cd.

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Yeah, I can see what you are saying there. That's part of the problem that many critics had with this I guess. Listened together, everything kind of blends so you actually have to look for differences within the songs.

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


10959 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i love mainstream stuff, and found this to be no better than a retread of their past work. plus this singer really grates on me :/

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Seems you either love or hate the singer.

It is like the last record, but I definitely thought they were much more consistent this time around as far as the songs go.

Knott-
Emeritus
October 21st 2009


10198 Comments


It's kinda silly the way you spend 2 paragraphs moaning about how other critics didn't give this enough of a chance. I wanted to like this, and it was just f**king boring.

Phantom
October 21st 2009


8961 Comments


"how to save a life" (the song) is all i've heard by these guys and it got so overplayed i ended up hating them

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Whoa that bad, eh? In what way do you find it boring Strikey?

Knott-
Emeritus
October 21st 2009


10198 Comments


As far as they treat different topics, the lyrics are all delivered in a very similar manner and tone. The piano stuff isn't interesting, and much as I can listen to tracks 1, 3 and 7 if they come up on an iTunes shuffle the whole album just blends into one sappy, faux-emotional idiotfest. The closer is one of the least satisfying sonic experiences ever. I don't even find it good on a chill-out kind of level; it's the kind of thing that's actively boring.

I even enjoyed their debut. Vienna, title-track, All At Once, Hundred, Look After You are all great tracks. This is just HI! WE'RE THE FRAY? WE CAN DO PIANO BALLADS AT VARIOUS TEMPOS. CYA.

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Fair enough and good explanation. I guess I find some value in this that you obviously don't, which is cool.

It seems to be a fairly relative thing as far as music being boring to a person I guess. Like I find Taylor Swift boring, and you don't. You find this boring, and I don't. To each his own.


Knott-
Emeritus
October 21st 2009


10198 Comments




it's probably got SOMETHING to do with it just getting tired; i mean, a few of the songs i don't like here sound like something off HTSAL and so if they'd been released the opposite way around i'd probably have this album at a 2.5 and their debut as the same. their debut is better though, surely you agree about that?

poopty
October 21st 2009


319 Comments



The Fray is one of those bands that tends to get beaten around a lot in the music underground. Be it their mainstream style of piano-tinged ballads, the vocal crooning of Isaac Slade, or just the sheer amount of success the band has had in their current career, something about The Fray has caused the more elite music audience to sneer and cast criticism on the band’s music that I find misplaced. The band is haphazardly thrown into a category of music that includes the Jonas Brothers, Nickelback, Simple Plan, etc. in which these bands are subject to an unfair amount of critical bias (though being arguably deserved in some aspects). A new album from one of these bands in question is then immediately panned and obliterated by critics or possible fans that enter the listening process with plugs already installed within their ears. Any possible redeeming qualities of the music is then immediately lost by these listeners and subsequently thrown out the window.

Such is the case with The Fray’s self-titled album. Upon first listen, critics are met with more of the same that was found on the band’s major label debut,How Save A Life, and as a result, that same unfair critical bias mentioned above comes into play. The album is then immediately dismissed as trash and boring material just after one listen (if that much in some cases). This is rather unfortunate in truth, as those same listeners are actually missing out on one of 2009’s most consistent mainstream pop releases.


all well and good but the fray sucks

Knott-
Emeritus
October 21st 2009


10198 Comments


Also, if I were to review this, there's very little chance I would give it a 1.5. 2, probably.

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Alright, I can understand that.

I like this better than the debut to be honest. It just seems more consistent than the first where the singles were great songs, but the rest of the tracks were filler-ish. You would probably say the same instead for this album though.

Anyway, thanks for the comments.

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


10959 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

also greg (can i call you greg? never met one before lol), i love how you write and for a (fairly) new user your reviews are generally topnotch; however, you undermine this one by talking too much about how others perceive the band (critics, elitists, whatever), rather than just straightaway giving your opinions on the album from the get-go. like strikey said, that's a bit silly, and it changes the whole color of the review. hope that helps, otherwise this was well-written as usual.

Ponton
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


6013 Comments


Yes. Greg is fine, and thanks Rudy. That makes sense about me addresing how others have viewed it too much instead of getting straight to the review. After all, I shouldn't be reviewing others here but the actual music, right?

I'll be sure to stay more objective and on track next time. Thanks again.

The Sludge
October 21st 2009


2169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review/completely agrees



I quite liked the first album a lot and my first listen of this one was boring and sounded the same. But after a couple spins I began to appreciate the individual songs and like this as much as the first album.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2009


8497 Comments


excellent review and the first two paragraphs where you talked about the elitists and other critics didn't bother me at all like they seemed to bother some other users.

I've heard a few songs by these guys from their debut as one of my friends was a bit into them at some point. Didn't really dig what i heard :/.



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