Review : Fray - Scars & Stories
Digital spySix years after 'How to Save a Life' and The Fray have never quite managed to step out of its shadow; a problem which resulted in lacklustre sales of their second record, 2009's The Fray.
Rather than rushing out a follow-up loaded with chart-friendly but ultimately empty hits, they've taken their time on Scars & Stories, soaking up inspiration from across the globe and hiring producer Brendan O'Brien (Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam).
Lead single 'Heartbeat' - inspired by their trip to Rwanda - is everything we've come to expect from the Denver rockers: a soothing but arena-ready riff, an earworm hook and the unique twang and insightful lyricism of frontman Isaac Slade. ...full text
BillboardAfter sales of its self-titled 2009 sophomore album fell far short of 2005's "How to Save a Life," the Fray pushes to "put it all back together" on its latest album, "Scars & Stories." The Denver quartet shakes things up with new producer Brendan O'Brien, and many of the dozen songs achieve the kind of meatiness that the group approached tentatively on The Fray. The troupe's stock in trade remains frontman Isaac Slade's earnest lyricism and a lush, anthemic ambience that marks similar territory to U2 and Coldplay on tracks like "The Fighter," "Run for Your Life" and "Munich." "Here We Are" and the martial-rhythmed "The Wind" are the set's hardest rockers, while "1961" gets a touch more raw. Elsewhere, "Turn Me On" mines the white-bread funk of Maroon 5, "48 to Go" offers a rootsy mainland U.S.A. travelogue, and lullaby "Be Still" closes the album with a gentle Celtic tinge. It's not a complete overhaul, but Scars & Stories pushes things perceptibly forward....full text
The DailyEvery so often, an album comes around that breaks all the rules. It disregards previous efforts, takes no notice of what people may think of it, and reinvents the wheel.
This is not that album. In fact, this may be an album that is almost on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. But that, by no means, makes it a bad album.
In its third studio album, The Fray doesn’t stray from the formula. The album clocks within two minutes of each of its predecessors at about 45 minutes, and the sound is composed of very similar, slow ballads of piano-driven soft rock.
The lyrical content is only slightly altered, with the song “1961” personifying the Berlin Wall. Another break comes in “Munich,” which was inspired by the particle collider in Switzerland and explores the human condition. However, much like their last albums, the majority of the space is still littered with love ballads about affection both lost and found. Case in point: “Maybe we were meant to be lonely, lonely / maybe we were meant be on our own / loneliness has always been with me, with me / maybe we don’t have to be all alone.”...full text
Sputnik MusicThe Fray have never done anything unexpected. They conform to the stringencies of modern pop, carefully tucking themselves into the same corner as soft-rock titans like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Keane, and The Script. Within those confines, however, it is difficult to say that they have ever done anything conspicuously wrong. Their music, while noticeably fluffy and inoffensive, is equally if not more contagious. With a flair for poignancy and an undeniable knack for expressive eloquence, The Fray have garnered significant respect within both the alternative and the mainstream communities. It is no wonder then that their latest offering, Scars & Stories, chooses to defend the band’s empire instead of pushing towards newer and greener pastures.
If a band is to rest in its laurels yet remain vital, consistency is a must. That is one aspect that has never troubled The Fray, and Scars & Stories continues their trend of refining and honing in on their product. The crystallization of their style is more evident than ever, with crashing cymbals, elated bells, and the occasionally heavy riff to drive everything home. ...full text
Absolute PunkIt’s hard to believe Scars & Stories is only the third go around for The Fray. After the massive breakthrough success of their debut record How to Save a Life back in 2005, The Fray have dominated modern radio. From the soaring success of “Over My Head” and “How to Save a Life” off that record to the repeated success with hits “You Found Me” and “Never Say Never" of the self-titled follow up, the band have mastered their piano pop-rock formula.
Now almost exactly three years since The Fray was released, Scars & Stories is the return of The Fray. The guys definitely take a different approach this time around, welcoming producer Brendan O’Brien to the boards, which brings a more rock and roll sound to this record. The band also traveled to various locations as ammo for the songwriting content on the record, allowing various stories and sights to come to life within Isaac Slade’s lyrics....full text
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