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Satisfactory, but not perfect
Posted May 04, 2009
By punkrawkrae,

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.

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