CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In music, there will always be at least one band that makes you think, "Hey, someone finally understands me." For me, that band is The Fray.
Like a lot of people, I didn't know about The Fray until "Grey's Anatomy" used the band's smash hit "How To Save a Life" in an episode and subsequent commercials. Something about the lyrics and emphasis on the piano struck a chord within me (pardon the pun). I've been a huge fan ever since.
The band's self-titled sophomore effort is one of my all-time favorite albums. Because of that, I was eagerly anticipating it's latest, "Scars & Stories," which was released Feb. 7.
The album kicks off with a bang. The first track and lead single, "Heartbeat," pounds you with deep percussion. It's a nice love song that makes for a good opening to the album, and it establishes right off the bat that The Fray is looking for a new sound.
Often considered the lovechild of Coldplay and Keane, (a description bolstered by the band's extremely Coldplay-esque sophomore album), The Fray wants to remain true to its roots while giving listeners a taste of what it can really do. With two hugely successful albums completed, The Fray now has legs to stand on.
It's a shame, then, that The Fray goes back to its angst-filled lyrics on the second track, "The Fighter." The music is something new for the band, but the lyrics aren't. "Maybe we were meant to be lonely/Maybe we were meant to be on our own/Loneliness has always been with me/But maybe we don't have to be all alone," sings front man Isaac Slade.
The song is good. Don't get me wrong. It's just nothing we haven't heard from The Fray before. It's the same "boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl are separated, boy and girl are reunited and live happily ever after" theme the band has had going for the last seven years. This song shows the band is still in the gray area between pessimism and optimism, and it really needs a change of pace.
However, The Fray breaks its pattern yet again with the following track, "Turn Me On." It's a fantastic and exciting song about passionate sexual attraction that rivals Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire." In it, Slade sings, "And I don't know what it is, what it is, what it is about you/What it is, what it is, but oh/The way you're movin,' you turn me on/I won't touch you 'til we're burning/Oh you turn me on."
"Run For Your Life" seems again to dip into Coldplay territory with themes similar to Coldplay's "Fix You." Unlike "The Fighter," though, the only similarities are thematic. The music and lyrics aren't typical for The Fray, and that's meant in the most positive way. This song once again shows that the band wants to have its own persona.