Forming in 2002, Denver-based The Fray is comprised of Isaac Slade (vocals, piano), Joe King (guitar, vocals), Ben Wysocki (drums) and Dave Welsh (guitar), the band has struck a huge chord with audiences and turned their organic grassroots efforts into major success.
With key placement on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs, The Fray achieved a licensing dream, with usage of their song, “How To Save A Life” and “Over My Head (Cable Car)” on television launching them into major radio play and worldwide sales of 3.2 million albums for their debut album.
After nearly four years, The Fray returns with their sophomore effort, The Fray. A band who exploded into worldwide success has captured the skilled song-writing that broke them and through the help of acclaimed producers Mike Flynn and Aaron Johnson, created a set of songs sure to make them household names.
The band continues their licensing success story by collaborating with ABC’s hit show, Lost in a series of music video promos featuring the first single, “You Found Me” for the newest season of the show. The first spot aired after an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, with digital single sales and pre-orders going live after it aired. The spots also ran during the 2008 American Music Awards, where the band was a featured performer. Over the weekend of the release and performance, the Lost video had over one million views.
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Never Say Never at this Ungodly Hour| Posted March 10, 2009
What's the key to The Fray's success? Songs you can relate to. According Issac Slade, the band's biggest songs were the ones that he wrote in the middle of a problem, when he was most vulnerable, while the ones where the songs are like 'Here's what I've learned' didn't click. With this mentality, the band has had hits with my personal favorite "Over My Head," "How To Save A Life" and now "You Found Me;" check the common denominator and you'll see the same common denominator, or so goes Denver band The Fray's story. Of course, how do you follow up an album that dominated AC radio for a good six months? By going by the same formula, but with new material, or so goes the story of their self-titled sophomore album.
Highlights include the emotionally touching "Enough For Now," the pleasant "Where The Story Ends," a track where the other Fray vocalist, Joe, puts up a soothing performance in "Ungodly Hour," the electronic distortions in "We Build Then We Break," and probably a track I was too hard on, but is still strangely catchy, "You Found Me," which defines the sound of the album. Also, if you catch the bonus track "Fair Fight" you'll get one of the band's best in an amazingly vulnerable and mellow track that's excellent on its own.
Overall, while it doesn't really bring anything new to the table in the genre or the band, it is a good listen for fans and radio listeners alike. It sure has enough positive lyrics and radio-friendliess about it to increase the band's popularity. I just wish they would have taken more chances, as it sounds more like an extension to their debut, which may, or may not be a bad thing. As/Is, "The Fray" only shows that this is not where the story ends, but they use too many absolutes, as it were.
The Fray's "The Fray": A Review| Posted February 03, 2009
by C.E. Moore
People who are genetically predisposed towards hating the kind of music that The Fray puts out may wonder why I am giving their sophomore album, “The Fray” such a high rating. What is more, long time fans of the band who cringe at the slightest tweak of the band’s signature sound may wonder the same thing. That is all well and good. To tell the truth, I am the one person on the planet who hadn’t heard about The Fray until a few weeks ago when I received a press release detailing their simultaneous release on a mainstream and Christian music label. I kid you not. I’ve been laughed at a lot these last few weeks.
Anyhow, if The Fray’s self-titled sophomore effort is any indication of their previous work (which I did not listen to, so as to keep my opinion bias-free), then I imagine it must have been a sound to behold. “The Fray” is just an amazing piece of music. I mean, I really cannot get over how much I like this band. I don’t know if they would consider themselves a Christian band in the narrow, classic sense of the word, but I wish more Christian bands could hone their craft to sound like this and mine life for the depth of lyricism that is found here.
But, before I talk about the songs, I want to make mention of the album’s packaging. I know paper CD slipcases are nothing new, but The Fray’s looks really nice. As the economy slows to a crawl, paper packaging is both fiscally and environmentally responsible. Artistically speaking, the neon lights motif is utilized very well. The liner notes features a picture of a different neon sign on each page that denotes the song’s title. The theme is executed well and provides the listener with a visual companion to deepen any contemplation that might take place along the way.
A top-notch piano line begins “Syndicate,” before guitars rise to the fore and frontman Isaac Slade steps up to the microphone. His voice is as big as the music behind it, but Slade never overpowers nor does he lost in the…well, fray. “Absolute” is a robust number that vascillates between hard and fast and light and thoughtful. Slade has noted that this song “could very well be inspired by the risk of long distance relationships,” as each of the band members is now married and spends a significant amount of time away from their significant other due to life on the road. “You Found Me” has been making the rounds on Christian radio since early January and is a song rich with pain and insight. Slade sings, “Lost and insecure, You found me, You found me/Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded/Why’d You have to wait, where were You, where were You/Just a little late, You found me, You found me…” Coming out of a tough time in Slade’s life (that continues even now), this is ultimately a song about the demands upon one’s faith to keep believing. “Never Say Never” is a song about a tumultuous relationship that breaks apart only to come back together again. Wash, rinse, repeat. We all know of relationships like this, and the lyrics here are raw while being intensely accessible. “Ungodly Hour” is…beautiful. Slade lightly sings, “Don’t talk, don’t say a thing/Cause your eyes they tell me more than your words/Don’t go, don’t leave me now/Cause they say the best way out is through…” This one strikes between the eyes for me, someone who has faced abandonment when fighting for the relationship was all that I wanted to do. I’ve had this one on repeat for the better part of the afternoon. The album closes out with “Happiness” and this is paradoxical poetry that will have the listener pondering what moved Slade to pen the lyrics. Happiness damn near destroys you? What does that mean? Is this song about true happiness, the unending pursuit of something beyond our grasp, or the flitting away of the happiness we already have in the quest for a form of happiness that doesn’t even exist?
But, I need to be a critic for a moment, right? So, allow me a moment to lodge a complaint in the slightest form. The only grievance I might have with “The Fray” is that the band’s sound can be a bit repetitive. The lyrics are the saving grave in those moments, but it might grate some people the wrong way. I, for one, wish the album were a bit longer to remedy this situation.
That being said, this album is flat-out amazing. If you like the sound of piano-driven rock music, pick this one up.
By the way, I just downloaded The Fray’s entire discography…
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Manifesto. Click here to visit TheChristianManifesto.com today!
There is very little 'Happiness'| Posted May 04, 2009
It’s been a while since the Fray’s debut album How to Save a Life, nearly four years in fact. I’ll save you time right now and tell you I wish that the Fray had waited a little longer and seriously considered what they put in their album because the Fray’s self titled album isn’t the CD that brought us “how to save a life” or “Cable car (over my head)”. It is a darker side of a band that has perhaps spent too much in the mainstream media.
Not much has changed dramatically on the musical front: Isaac Slade still brings his Jon Forman like vocals to solemn piano driven pop, rock tunes which might frustrate some who wanted more variety this time around. The first single “you found me” gives a good taste of what that album is like with Slade’s emotional vocals leading a very good pop/light rock chorus but the one drawback is the artistically lacking bridge. The piano is solid on “syndicate”, but the song isn’t lights out as the piano driven rock tune, “enough for now”. “Say when” struggles to stay together as the music shifts too incoherently but the band does pull the sound together to make a good aggressive rock push towards the end of the song.
The repetition in “where the story ends” prevents it from becoming another how to save a life but the upbeat pop blends well with the piano, and “never say never” is another would-be solid light track that is marred with too many of Slade’s ‘don’t let me go’. The most diverse song on the album is “we build then we break” which spins a little alternative music into the pop rock. One thing the CD is not lacking in is adding some haunt in there many melancholy ballads. Although “happiness” starts out surprisingly with a guitar the light pop tune eventually ends the album with the piano but “ungodly hour” solemn sound isn’t enough to save a pretty boring song. Another drawback is that you would expect a band that has just awakened from their slumber to give fans more than ten songs.
Isaac Slade, who is a committed Christian, steered his debut away from clear spiritual matters but the sophomore project does include more obvious references to our creator. “You found me” is very encouraging at first with the opening line ‘I found God’ builds off that ‘Lost and insecure, you found me’. Sadly Slade’s encounter of God finds the almighty smoking a cigarette and Slate questioning his timing (‘Why'd you have to wait?/Where were you? Where were you?/Just a little late.’). in the midst of a song about a relationship (Say the word and I will be your man’) “Say when” seems to acknowledge God’s ability to move nations as he please and “when the story ends” bring ups up Christ ‘To forget what I’ve done, silhouette til the good lord come’ but the song itself isn’t very comforting.
Other problems surface themselves throughout like the creepy “we build then we break” which contains disturbing references to stalking a lovers former man in attempts at revenge by drowning (‘Cause I will be 2 steps behind /You will not know what’s got you/Oh so you’re sorry now/All is not well, it’s not ended/Hold your breath til its over/There’s something left underwater’). Things are not very cheerful on “Happiness” which depressingly take a cynical view of happiness (‘Happiness feels a lot like sorrow’) and even throws in a mild profanity. One positive is among one of the many girl/guy relationship songs “Syndicate” does offer hope in a time of trouble (‘Don't open til the morning light/Don't ever forget/We haven't lost it all yet’).
Those who were looking to the Fray for the first great release of the year will have to wait some more. Those who were looking for a positive complex rock album from the Fray will have to wait even longer. The Fray’s references to God might have gone up but the overall qualities of the lyrics went straight down.
:)| Posted February 08, 2009
I like alot of things about this cd- and although I'll admit they don't have a really distinct sound, there lyrics have really nice meaning behind them and sound great musically.
Satisfactory, but not perfect| Posted May 04, 2009
The Fray. Chances are that you’ve probably heard of them. With such songs as “Over My Head” and “How To Save a Life”, which have had lots of radio play, it‘s almost impossible not to have heard them. Well, if you didn’t know already, you’ll be happy to hear that The Fray just released their newest cd earlier this year.
The Fray’s self-titled sophomore album opens with “Syndicate”. The song starts off with a solid, piano-driven melody, which later explodes with guitars. It seems to suggest a new beginning, with lyrics claiming, “Baby close your eyes, don’t open til the morning light/ Don’t ever forget, we haven’t lost it all yet”. It’s the perfect song to open up the record, but the lyrics give some foreshadowing of the rest of the album- the feeling of loss and regret, along with a cycle of cynicism and fragile hope.
The song “You Found Me”, which is the first hit on the album, shows this clearly, with poignant statements such as, “Where were You when everything was falling apart?” or “In the end everyone ends up alone”. It shows itself radio-worthy with a catchy piano melody at the beginning. The guitars come in at the pre-chorus, with the piano drifting into the background. Once the chorus comes in, the guitars grow distorted, which complements the song perfectly. All the instruments blend in wonderfully together, and the drums keep the main beat- making it an ideal song to tap your feet to.
Another hit, “Say When”, begins with guitars and what sounds like synthesizers playing faintly in the background. It’s a pretty sedate song until the end, when the beat picks up and then explodes with fervent guitars.
The song “Happiness” is one of the ‘deep’ songs. The title is actually oxymoronic, as the song talks about how “Happiness feels a lot like sorrow” and “Happiness… near destroys you/Breaks your faith to pieces on the floor”. It’s obvious that the singer feels burnt and cynical about happiness, but at the end of the song, he leaves room for hope, promising that you’ll never find happiness if you’re looking for it, but if you let it go and leave it, one day “she’ll be home”.
As for the band’s personal aspects of the record, lead singer Isaac Slade has shared some of the stories behind a few of the songs. The song “Enough for Now” is about how Slade dealt with the death of his beloved grandfather, while “You Found Me” is about what Slade says is “the disappointment, the heart ache, the let down that comes with life.” Both songs were written at tough times, and Slade stated, “It demands so much of my faith to keep believing, keep hoping in the unseen. Sometimes the tunnel has a light at the end, but usually they just look black as night. This song (talking about “You Found Me”) is about that feeling, and the hope that I still have, buried deep in my chest."
As far as the audience this album will attract, I would say no one, regardless of age or people group, will feel alienated; almost everyone will enjoy it. As far as genres goes, The Fray’s album could be described as ‘soft rock’ or ‘piano-driven rock’. If you prefer fast-paced, energetic songs rather than smooth, slow songs, you probably won’t find this album quite as appealing.
One of the bad things about the record is that some of the songs can get redundant after a while, and the listener could easily lose interest. The lyrics of all the songs are well-thought out, but the actual music might be too slow-paced for the majority of people; all of them have piano and some mild guitar melodies, which can get tiring for some. Also, all the cynical views might disappoint some people. On the other hand, there’s a lot of hope in those same songs- I believe that The Fray did a wonderful job at blending them together. I also believe that a lot of the songs have some deep lyrics, if you pay attention to them. There are also songs like “We Build Then We Break”, which is wonderfully different from the mundane. Something about the beat almost has a “secret-agent” feel to it, and there’s a lot more alternative rock in it than the soothing piano.
All in all, The Fray got their sophomore project done, and have a satisfactory, but not perfect, record to show for it. Hopefully, they’ll have enough time to polish their songs and think about them before they record their next album.
Might be for fray fans only| Posted February 25, 2009
For all the fray fans out there, i am sure this album is right up your alley. I never got into the band with their first album, and can't get into their first christian album.
All the songs mesh together and i find they lack much of a beat, and the vocals bug me. The only song I don't mind is the radio single You Found Me, but it is already being overkilled by the radio.
Even though I never fully liked their first project How to Save a Life, I did go into their follow up with high hopes. Unfortunatly, it did not deliver for me. Their first project at least had more catchy tunes.
I'm sure if you love How to Save a Life, you will probably enjoy their first christian album. For me it is nothing extraordinary.
Disappointed| Posted February 10, 2009
I was disappointed in the new CD by the Fray. As I listened, if I wasn't concentrating, I couldn't tell when the song changed. That's a sad thing. There wasn't any song that reached out and touched me.