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  -  Fray, The - The Fray (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=889052)

Gregory Robson 02/20/09 06:44 AM

Fray, The - The Fray
 
The Fray - The Fray
Record Label: Epic
Release Date: February 3, 2009


Some people say that The Fray lead singer Isaac Slade has a nasally whine that sounds like he has yet to get over a 10-year head cold. Other people say every song the band puts out sounds analogous. So it's no surprise that to date critics have bashed their self-titled follow up left and right. Despite the fact that it made a splash on the Billboard charts upon its release and that single "You Found Me" is doing relatively well at radio, people still want to hate this band. This dispassion is all quite confusing.

For what it's worth, the Denver quartet has released a charming, appealing record that would be far more praiseworthy if it didn't sound so much like its predecessor. But for the sake of argument, how exactly is that a bad thing? Coldplay made a bunch of safe records until Viva La Vida broke the mold. So why is The Fray getting so trounced? Is the band too polite? For starters, most of the members are all married, some have children, and at one point in their careers they have all identified themselves as Christian. To this degree, they have never trashed hotel rooms, kicked camera people or served jail time. In fact, they've done little to polarize any one person or any one outlet. This band is to put it mildly, safe, comfortable, warming, and gracious.

And now for the music. For one, the self-titled album isn't nearly as awful as people make it out to be. Opener "Syndicate" opens with a winning piano line and pushes out into a grander, denser sound than found before on the major label debut. Second track "Absolute" is an arena-rock send-up that borrows its swagger and energy from the likes of U2 and Snow Patrol. The ubiquitous single "You Found Me" follows and is backed by "Say When," a pleasing, mid-tempo offering that is one of the band's highlights. The best part of the song is that Slade pushes his vocals to a near-desperate yelp an the music sounds far bolder and kinetic than anything they've ever done before. A syrupy ballad "Never Say Never" follows and it's nothing short of astonishing. There's falsetto towards the end and its romantic, wistful and full of understated grace. Backed by strings and a swelling rhythm section, it's a polished and positive step forward.

"Where the Story Ends" follows and it's the album's first and only letdown. It's not so much a bad song as it just doesn't seem to go anywhere. Slade's vocals are effective here and the lyrics, which chronicle an unhappy person hating his life, are evocative and poignant. "Enough For Now" sounds a bit like "Say When" redux but the passion and energy are a bit more realized here. For all his crooning and light-hearted moments, it's refreshing to hear Slade sound so pissed off and angry.

The sparse piano ballad "Ungodly Hour" follows and it's Joe King's turn on lead vocals. Some might argue he has a more effective vocal style than Slade and should be utilized more often and there is merit to this argument. The song is panged by sadness and desperation as he laments a failed relationship, "Because of me her bag is much heavier, I wish to God that I could carry her, but this is our ungodly hour." The saturnine wail is reminiscent of Ryan Adams and it's a marked departure from anything in the band's prior catalog.

It's songs like "Ungodly Hour" that reveal a promise and a definition for future albums that other critics seem to be missing. "We Build Then We Break" is a fiery, percussive-heavy rocker that drifts off into an experimental and indie side that the band hasn't really explored thus far in their career. It has the same arena-rock intensity of "Absolute" and it's a shame it's such a brief song and that it comes towards the end. On these two electric offerings its evident the band has songs like this in their repertoire and its unfortunate they don't push those limits more often.

The album ends with "Happiness," a somber acoustic-fueled lament on happiness, death, love and stability. It's a chilly and brave way to end an album and quite fitting. Clearly there are issues unresolved within Slade's psyche, and the heavy dose of unhappiness and disappointment are indicative of that. Yet for all it's down moments, there's also a large chunk of triumphant choruses, resounding drums and chiming guitar lines. Yes, it may be an album a lot like its predecessor, but that isn't exactly a bad thing. If Jack's Mannequin can get away with it, why can't The Fray?

Recommended If You LikeHow to Save a Life; Coldplay; Keane; Jack's Mannequin; piano ballads; pondering life's disappointments; long-distance relationships

myspace.com/thefray

Adrian Villagomez 02/26/09 02:08 PM

The Fray thank you for your acceptance.

newfoundmichael 02/26/09 02:37 PM

I just find these guys so bland. Nothing sets them apart in my mind from anything else in this genre.

Just Matt 02/26/09 09:54 PM

RIYL: Pondering Life's Dissapointments

Cracks me up everytime I read it

LongDistanceDrunk 02/26/09 10:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newfoundmichael (Post 37179622)
I just find these guys so bland. Nothing sets them apart in my mind from anything else in this genre.

Exactly how I feel.

briXinRhands 02/27/09 12:32 AM

I didn't know the new album wasn't very well liked. I really enjoy it, it's more consistent than their last and I think the piano and the vocals really set them apart from a lot of other similar bands.

Piss 02/27/09 06:41 AM

they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

Yellowcard2006 02/27/09 08:57 AM

I was wondering when a review was gonna be up. Great review, exactly how I feel about the album. Critics have been way too harsh on the reviews.

Jeremy Aaron 02/27/09 09:21 AM

I've got nothing against a good pop-rock record and I enjoyed a lot of How to Save a Life. However, the only track I though was any good from this album is "Absolute." Once you get past the first three songs, if you can stay awake for the rest, you're a better man than me.

DarkBlue13 02/27/09 10:09 AM

This is a great review but there are some serious grammar errors in here. No one is going to take you seriously if you can't proofread your work.

MusicTalks 02/27/09 01:44 PM

I'm pretty sure that DarkBlue, almost certainly a Lit major, is the only one who really noticed the issues with the grammar. The grammatical errors aren't that noticeable, unless your name is 'Spelling and Grammar Check'. With that said, I can't get on board with The Fray. I don't know, there's something about it that has always put me off of their sound. I did like the review tho.

sargentlgfuad 02/27/09 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

......:-0 ......

thepianominstre 02/27/09 02:49 PM

Been waiting for a review for this... and while I'm normally a grammar nazi I don't remember wincing at anything (I did kinda speed-read it tho and I don't feel like going through it again)

Anyway, I absolutely loved the first album and really wanted to like this one but I cannot get into it at all... I don't know if I'm not identifying with the lyrics or if the melodies aren't as good or if the production's too safe or what, but I get painfully bored every time I try to get through this album (streamed or borrowed). And I still think of How to Save A Life as probably one of my top 10 albums.

I was looking forward to purchasing this album but instead I finally got around to getting Viva La Vida, and what a contrast... even aside from all the clever things about that album, sometimes they'll just get into a good light-rock groove and I think, they could ride this progression instrumentally for five minutes and I would not be bored. There's absolutely nothing on the new Fray album that grabs me, neither clever-wise nor groove-wise.

DarkBlue13 02/27/09 05:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicTalks (Post 37274092)
I'm pretty sure that DarkBlue, almost certainly a Lit major, is the only one who really noticed the issues with the grammar. The grammatical errors aren't that noticeable, unless your name is 'Spelling and Grammar Check'. With that said, I can't get on board with The Fray. I don't know, there's something about it that has always put me off of their sound. I did like the review tho.

Hahaha no I'm actually an engineering major. I don't even usually get bothered by that kind of stuff, but for some reason there were two sentences in a row that had errors that just threw off the whole flow of the review. Either way, GREAT album and the review was very insightful.

DI Pistola 02/27/09 05:52 PM

Some music is sleep-inducing because it's peaceful in all the right tones and rhythms. The Fray is sleep-inducing because their music is just goddamned boring.

WalmartPhotoGuy 02/27/09 08:28 PM

Enough for Now is a great song.

Nick_K99 02/27/09 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

Secondhand Serenade remind me of a crappier version of The Fray!

sargentlgfuad 02/28/09 12:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick_K99 (Post 37328012)
Secondhand Serenade remind me of a crappier version of The Fray!


thank you. (no wonder his name is Piss)

Piss 02/28/09 02:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sargentlgfuad (Post 37330712)
thank you. (no wonder his name is Piss)

i see what you did there

fadedmemories 02/28/09 06:08 AM

Good review.

sargentlgfuad 02/28/09 10:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37336892)
i see what you did there

didn't take much thought.

flyingmonkey711 02/28/09 01:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

Are you currently smoking crack?

WhoSaidThat? 02/28/09 06:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicTalks (Post 37274092)
I'm pretty sure that DarkBlue, almost certainly a Lit major, is the only one who really noticed the issues with the grammar. The grammatical errors aren't that noticeable, unless your name is 'Spelling and Grammar Check'. With that said, I can't get on board with The Fray. I don't know, there's something about it that has always put me off of their sound. I did like the review tho.

That's a very masculine avatar you got there, Jason. ;-)

andherewego 03/02/09 01:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade


I really hope that's a joke.

I agree with a lot of your review. I personally really enjoy The Fray's new album, and didn't expect such a positive review of it on this site. Really looking forward to their tour with Jack's Mannequin opening, as Jack's is my favorite band, and The Fray really won me over with this album, and i think the two together would put on a great show.

Gregory Robson 03/02/09 06:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by andherewego (Post 37488912)
I really hope that's a joke.

I agree with a lot of your review. I personally really enjoy The Fray's new album, and didn't expect such a positive review of it on this site. Really looking forward to their tour with Jack's Mannequin opening, as Jack's is my favorite band, and The Fray really won me over with this album, and i think the two together would put on a great show.

Glad you picked up on the Jack's Mannequin tour reference at the end. Nice work, attentive reader!

dhelmick 03/02/09 09:58 AM

I cant really listen to the fray. pretty much because of what most people have said already. its not really my music type. but bands that are comming out now all sound almost exactly the same. i dont get how they become so popular. thats just my opinion of course. nice review none the less

WhoSaidThat? 03/02/09 12:38 PM

Still a great review for a good album. I don't know why I enjoy this so much. I guess I'm a sucker for a piano. :shrug:

MusicTalks 03/02/09 02:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WhoSaidThat? (Post 37380002)
That's a very masculine avatar you got there, Jason. ;-)

I'm okay with it.

WhoSaidThat? 03/02/09 02:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicTalks (Post 37530612)
I'm okay with it.

That's good.

Miss Heartcore 03/03/09 09:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

You're comparing them to a band that's a Secondhand Dashboard Confessional :eyebrow:

MusicTalks 03/03/09 09:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miss Heartcore (Post 37606932)
You're comparing them to a band that's a Secondhand Dashboard Confessional :eyebrow:


Oh, that's witty ;-)

Miss Heartcore 03/03/09 10:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicTalks (Post 37607542)
Oh, that's witty ;-)

I was going to say SecondRATE Dashboard but I was trying o be nice.

On another note, I love this single on this album, but I'm not sure if it's enough to get the entire thing.

MusicTalks 03/03/09 10:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miss Heartcore (Post 37608552)
I was going to say SecondRATE Dashboard but I was trying o be nice.

On another note, I love this single on this album, but I'm not sure if it's enough to get the entire thing.

I don't think that you'd be far off with that assessment.

I can't get on board with The Fray. I don't know what it is about them that just says 'No.' I hated both hit singles from their last record and each time I hear this one, I'm just indifferent. Although, I would have to say that the new single is better than their first album's singles.

Miss Heartcore 03/03/09 10:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicTalks (Post 37609352)
I don't think that you'd be far off with that assessment.

I can't get on board with The Fray. I don't know what it is about them that just says 'No.' I hated both hit singles from their last record and each time I hear this one, I'm just indifferent. Although, I would have to say that the new single is better than their first album's singles.

It was love at first single for me but once the radio raped their singles, I stayed away. I can't deny it though, I'm definitely a fan of their music.

MusicTalks 03/03/09 11:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miss Heartcore (Post 37609682)
It was love at first single for me but once the radio raped their singles, I stayed away. I can't deny it though, I'm definitely a fan of their music.

What's funny is that my brother loves this new album and he's about as indie/emo as they get. I mean, Cartel is a big name in this genre, but not so much outside of it, and my brother stopped listening to them as soon as they became more of a household name. So, to me, it's surprising to hear him love on this record when I would have guessed he's rather drop a bowling ball on his nuts than listen to it. Anyhow, cheers to you both for liking them. I have nothing against them, just isn't my cup o' tea, really.

Brett3 03/05/09 03:35 PM

Great review.

Ryzenfall 03/05/09 04:59 PM

I enjoy this band thoroughly. The hate is baffling.

HometownHero 03/06/09 12:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

Haha you are awful

Tyler Vagyler 03/08/09 07:44 PM

This band is good and so is this album

on a frequency 03/30/09 04:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Piss (Post 37243752)
they remind me of a crappier version of secondhand serenade

ahahahahaha i cannot believe that

i don't think a crappier version of secondhand serenade could possibly ever exist

fedddiee 05/08/09 06:08 PM

mehhhh
for what its worth;
According to this review, songs like "We Build then We Break" and "Ungodly Hour" might be so innovative and cuting-edge for The Fray. However when I listen to this album, I'm still really affectionate to their more tradiitonal songs. You may think "We Buld then We Break" is so new and amazing but i enjoy their more traditional material. There's a difference between a new style of a song and the quality of it. The Fray is good at what it traditionally does and like the review said, its underappreciated.

memebn 09/23/09 07:56 PM

Helloooo!!! It may sound stupid but they're not "a quintet", they're four!!!

Gregory Robson 09/24/09 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by memebn (Post 54466292)
Helloooo!!! It may sound stupid but they're not "a quintet", they're four!!!

I am so glad you pointed this out. I was just reading this again for the first time in awhile and I totally saw that. I was like EEP! Thank you, I will fix it.

Sarcasm 05/14/10 06:02 AM

These guys get way too much hate and they don't deserve it.

Oh well, haters gonna hate.

MBIIdollaBill 08/26/11 12:50 AM

i can't the press was trying to diss this band and they turned around and gave the black eyed peas grammys in 2 categories that this band deserved to win in. seriously, fuck the industry and fuck the music press. AP and sputnikmusic are the only places that get it right nowadays. the fray is the best radio rock band out there, the script is a joke and an insult

Anthony Sorendino 01/04/13 01:30 PM

Very solid album, great review.