1. She Is
2. Over My Head (Cable Car)
3. How To Save A Life
4. All At Once
5. Fall Away
6. Haven Forbid
7. Look After You
10. Dead Wrong
11. Little House
12. Trust Me
The Fray debuts with the very like-able pop album “How To Save A Life”. Catchy pop/rock tunes that bare resemblance to bands like Augustana, Lifehouse, Keane, Counting Crows & Semisonic. Maybe even more so than some of the bands I just mentioned, The Fray manages to market their music to the fans very directly. With their critically acclaimed live shows and uptempo drive, the music is pure ear candy.
The album starts with the infectious She Is with a good, energetic drive and excellent piano work. The tempo changes and varying in the richness of the sound works really well and The Fray is off to a good start on “How To Save A Life”.
Over My Head (Cable Car)
The lead single for this album is Over My Head and with the subtle percussion and steady drums this song has a basis on which an addictive pop song was built. The comforting and inviting vocals by Isaac Slade are pleasant to the ears, and the musical frame that is upheld by the drums & piano crafts for a catchy sing-along.
How To Save A Life
The title track off “How To Save A Life” is perhaps the song that sticks in your head most. It’s one of those songs that has the quality that you can sing along to it (almost) completely after only hearing it once or twice. The piano-ballad feel of the midtempo song gives it a bit of a fragile feeling that people can identify with. The solid togetherness (by lack of a better word) of the band gives this song a strong exposure.
All At Once
All At Once is another very catchy tune, with a little more alternative sound. Like pretty much every song on this album it’s just waiting to become a huge radio hit. The vocalists and instrumentalists in the band just all fall into place and where this isn’t the most renewing music it is music that speaks to many people. And who can’t relate to “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same”? This song is yet another highlight on this album.
A more laid-back feel is found on Fall Away with almost jazzy drums and a soulful vocal line. It’s not as catchy as the previous songs on the album, but on this song too, The Fray pulls off a cohesion and quality that makes the song stand out.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Heaven Forbid. The Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol)-like vocals, or well basically the whole song shows a remarkable Snow Patrol resemblance, is a great song, but since it reminds me so much of Snow Patrol i’m kinda torn on it. I love Snow Patrol and have loved them since ’97 and The Fray is a band that is climbing on my favorites ladder with giant steps. As for Heaven Forbid, I don’t think it’s the best song on the album, but it sure is a lot better than most of the crap on the radio.
Look After You
After two songs that had a bit less catchiness, we hear a song that could well be another radio hit. Starting off in slower pace, the song builds up to a climax in the chorus that has an undeniable sing along quality. The song nestles in your head with the intention of not going away. This song is a good example of being catchy without being very uptempo. The build-ups are subtle but strong and the song has a sort of lullaby quality that makes it speak to you.
We’re arriving to my favorite part of the album. Hundred is a wonderful piano ballad with a melancholic and almost a bit of a sad sound. But it also shows glinsters of hope in the music. The piano takes a prominent place in this song and to me, even more than the vocals, it tells the story of the song. For me this song is definitely one of the best signs that this band isn’t just good in writing popular pop songs, but that they have a true musical quality that forms the basis of their success.
Vienna is my favorite track on this astonishing debut album. Even though it has the potential, I’m hoping it won’t be released to radio. The song has something special and I’d rather not have that ruined by it being overplayed on radio. It slightly reminds me of Five For Fighting but maybe with a richer sound. This is a song that really has the quality to reach someone and speak to one. The different layers of the song are cleverly fit into each other and the changes in complexity, tempo, sound, loudness and intensity of the vocals are all part of the way this song shines. After almost 2m30 the song comes into its epic phase that slowly builds down towards the end. Perfect example of how to write a great song.
This song, speaking of the feel of it, is somewhat like the first 4 songs on the album. In the beginning, however, I couldn’t get into this song as much as I could with those 4 songs. But Dead Wrong is a song that has the ability to grow on you and you can discover new things in it every time you hear it.
The fast-paced piano intro reminds me of something, maybe Queen, but I’m not really sure. The song has a real rock feel about it, and has a bit of an alternative twist. I’m glad to hear this, because all the pop/rock songs were great, and easy to like, but this more agressive approach of the song shows me they can do that too and with the energy and sophistication this band has, something good like this was bound to come out. With little touches that remind me of Queen, Muse and other acts they give a great rock twist to this song and it also makes for a great live song.
The intimate Trust Me closes the album. It probably is my least favorite song on the album. It’s not a bad song at all, but it is somewhat less convincing than the other songs. It could be a bit catchier and maybe have a bit more kick in it, but all in all the song can stand on its own and it can’t take away from the remarkable effort The Fray has shown by this debut album.
The Fray might not be the most renewing band out there, but the music they play is hard not to like. The catchy, up-tempo pop/rock tunes are made to be played on radio and are impossible not to sing along to. The band plays together like a well-oiled machine and this debut album deserves to be big.