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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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Album Review: The Fray's "Helios"

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Courtesy of Epic Records

Whether you’re a “Grey’s Anatomy” fan, who instinctively places the song “How to Save a Life” with numerous intense episodes where the song is played, or simply remember the track from its radio popularity back in 2005, you probably remember the band The Fray. Lead singer Isaac Slade’s moving vocals have a rare sound, and the band is known for other memorable hits like “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “You Found Me.” Although they may not be the most popular band in their genre, their most recent album, “Helios” is worth the listen.

The album, released on Feb. 25th, does not stray too far from the band’s previous, typical emotive tracks, although, it has moments of seeming like they tried to take risks and be edgier than in the past.

This risk taking is both good and bad; the band’s sound is certainly more up-tempo, drifting from their usual emotive, piano ballads, but they also fail with some tracks that seem to mimic some of their past hits. This is apparent with tracks like “Hold My Hand,” a high-energy song that resembles their track “Heartbeat” from their 2012 album, “Scars and Stories.” The track, which has the potential to do well on pop radio stations, at least fares better than “Give It Away,” which is far too-overreaching and makes the band seem like they are trying too hard to gain pop listeners’ attention. “Shadow and a Dancer” is to say the least, a downer. It’s not a feel good song but instead of some of their past sad songs (“Fall Away”) it doesn’t evoke emotion, it’s just blasé.

Despite some blunders on this album, “Love Don’t Die” is a stand out that proves that some of the band’s bold decisions on this album are worth it. With poignant lyrics like “even if they try they’ll never take my body from your side, love don’t die” and a moodier sound than fans may be used to, this track works and was an excellent choice as a single from the album. “Wherever This Goes,” shows off the slowed down side of this band that has earned them praise in the past.

This album was confusing to listen to, as some moments are powerful, with nearly flawless vocals and emotional writing, while other songs seem too close to their past works. The Fray, by no means, needs to emulate their competitors, but they could take note from bands like The Script that seem to do a better job of distinguishing the importance of staying true to their sound while also being able to pull off musical risks.

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