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The Fray - The Fray

The Fray, The Fray

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DENVER’S The Fray broke big when their hit How To Save A Life featured prominently on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and catapulted them into the stratosphere.

The LP of the same name was subsequently Grammy nominated and sold over 3.2 million copies worldwide, including half a million in the UK alone.

Its follow-up, the eponymous The Fray, is content to stick to the same formula, playing things ultra-safe, ultra-earnest and kind of uninvolving.

True, there are some strong moments that seem tailor-made for another stab at Grey’s Anatomy-style programme placement, but it’s often difficult to pick tracks apart, while there’s an over-reliance on the same formula.

You Found Me, for instance, has already featured on the fifth season promos for Lost and is emotionally manipulative in typical Fray fashion – slow-building from its piano soaked start to its epic, expansive chorus. Lyrically, it’s geared towards the hopeless romantic, which explains a lot of its appeal. It finds hope from despair, optimism in dark places. You could almost write an accompanying screenplay.

Further tracks do pretty much the same thing. Album opener Syndicate opens with a flourish of pianos and guitars, while Isaac Slade’s distinct vocals layer on the meaning and sentiment in each lyric.

Never Say Never rings every ounce of sentiment from its love-lorn lyrics about “don’t let me go”, Where The Story Ends ups the tempo and will probably be an easy pick for a future single, and Enough For Now flirts with a Marc Cohn, Walking In Memphis style sensibility.

Album standout We Build Then We Break eases back on the sentimental piano and replaces it with a more vigorous beat, a darker electronic pulse and some falsetto vocals (a la Chris Martin) and thrives. But it’s a rare break from formula that leaves you wishing there was more of that sort of thing.

Not that fans of The Fray will mind. It’s tailor-made for them and, as such, will doubtless sell by the bucket-load.

In truth, though, The Fray pale by comparisons to some of their peers and for maximum emotional involvement and diversity you’re better off sticking with the latest releases from Coldplay, Keane and the forthcoming new U2.

Download picks: You Found Me, We Build Then We Break, Syndicate

Track listing:

  1. Syndicate
  2. Absolute
  3. You Found Me
  4. Say When
  5. Never Say Never
  6. Where The Story Ends
  7. Enough For Now
  8. Ungodly Hour
  9. We Build Then We Break
  10. Happiness