WCB Music Writer
Scars & Stories
Released – Februray 7, 2012
Producer – Brendan O’Brien
Label – Epic
It was back in 2005 when the Colorado native band released their successfully received first record How to Save a Life, featuring recognizable radio songs “How to Save a Life” and “Over My Head (Cable Car)”. Four years later they released their self-titled The Fray, an album that carried similar achievements, but did not echo the same reception. The two most popular releases off of their sophomore album included “You Found Me” and “Never Say Never.”
Scars and Stories has infusing characteristics of a darker tone threaded within the lyrics more so than the previous albums. What remains is the established piano-driven pop-rock sound at the heart of each song. The band began the work on this project embracing the ideas of a new producer, Brendan O’Brien who is one of the most desired rock music producers within the industry.
Generally speaking, the tracks all hold a familiar close-to-home emotionally triggering sound that the band has enacted in previous efforts. Lead vocalist Isaac Slade delivers his profound and noteworthy lyrics once again layered above his strong piano melody.
The first single “Heartbeat” begins the album and trails the entrance for the sound that can be found encompassing the album as a whole. The vocals have the same style and the melody moves at a fast, stronger pulse. Keeping in tune with the title of the album is a song called “The Fighter” the lyrics tell the tragic story of an untimely parting of a couple. “The Wind” is a nice break from the norm focusing on percussion and flowing guitar instrumentation alongside “48 To Go” and “1961”which are accented by the developing rock over pop vibe. In “Rainy Zurich,” the dynamics of the piano are much softer and the percussion beat takes over as the vital forward motion.
The album rightfully concludes with a ballad called “Be Still” that leaves out all instrumental elements except for the raw and cherished piano accompanied by Slade’s gentle yet enduring vocals.
The Fray’s music has held an element of emotion expressed both through music and lyrics. For fans that have been with the band from the beginning, the reasons for adoring this album will only grow. The past two albums can be described as the ground work of their sound, and this newest endeavor does nothing more than build and sustain the credibility of that beloved impression through many stories that must have buried scars to show.