The Fray are a band that seem to exist purely to make incidental music for American TV shows, at one point it seems to have been illegal to film any ‘emotional’ scene without their enormo-hit ‘How To Save a Life’. However instead of doing the decent thing and retiring on the obscenely large royalties generated by that song, the band are back and have made a new album. After all who else is going to soundtrack Grey’s Anatomy?
Things start off in typically morose fashion on opener ‘Syndicate’, the plinking piano and awkward time signature signal clearly that The Fray are still in the business of over earnest pop-rock balladry. The fun continues all across the album with many of the tracks blurring into one large mess of plinking pianos and mewled vocals. Only the fuzzed up bass line of ‘We Build Then We Break’ provides any relief from the omnipresent and ever oppressive piano, and even then the band’s attempt to rock out sounds more like a spoilt toddler’s tantrum than any meaningful statement. Amidst the grey sludge that makes up the bulk of the album lead single ‘You Found Me’ (which has already been used in both Grey’s Anatomy and Lost) is the only track that really stands out. Elsewhere the likes of ‘Never Say Never’ and ‘Where The Story Ends’ are the kind of songs that Coldplay would reject as too bland.
The problem is that The Fray show no sense of either innovation or creativity and are quite content to rehash and ride their tried and tested formula all the way to the bank. The album is bereft of any emotional depth, it is content to plod along wallowing in its overwrought and pointless angst. Front man and Mr Potato-Head lookalike Issac Slade delivers the lyrics in such a way that his often annoying voice seems to swallow up what little meaning the words have. This is probably a good thing, the lyrics are a dreadful cocktail of residual teenage angst and poor metaphors. In the lyrics for ‘You Found Me’ he whitters on about finding God on a street corner and giving him a cigarette and just sounds daft trying to make a point, whilst the affected misery of ‘Ungodly Hour’ is drab and overly maudlin. Unless you really loved The Fray’s first album you should avoid this steaming pile at all costs and even then you should be prepared for one of the most boring listens of your entire life.