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There is very little 'Happiness'
Posted May 04, 2009
By Nathan,

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.

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