Coming off a three-year recording hiatus, The Fray releases its third album, “Scars and Stories,” guided by producer Brendan O’Brien of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam fame. The band draws from the previous success of their debut album and has many fast, performance-heavy songs on the albums, such as “Be Still,” as well as slow melancholy medleys like “Rainy Zurich.”
Overall, the album is more aggressive than the sophomore album, which had less commercial success than the first album. The debut single off the album, “Heartbeat,” is very catchy and evokes the carefree nature of summertime. “Turn Me On” is a fast-paced song with an alluring beat and strong background music that doesn’t overpower the lyrics. “1961” combines quickly-sung verses with a slower, drifting chorus, which plays off the emotions of the song. The song “I Can Barely Say” is similar to the music on the self-titled sophomore album, a minor-key, piano-heavy melody with a dragging tempo. This is one of two songs on the album that is similar to songs on previous albums.
The lyrics on this album once again relate to life’s problems. Common themes include happiness, sadness, heartache, heartbreak and death. The final song on the album, “Be Still,” references the biblical passage Psalm 46:10 — “If no one is standing beside you/Be still and know I am.” The Fray, whose members were previously Denver church worship leaders, had some religious messages in the lyrics in their first two albums but has since moved away from having songs completely outfitted in religious messages. “Be Still” is the most raw song on the record, with lead singer Isaac Slade’s voice cracking a few times during the acoustic recording. Slade stated that this lullaby was penned for his little brother, Micah, who had called him at 4 a.m. complaining he couldn’t fall asleep.
This album is a great one to listen to while driving with the windows down or while studying. The pop-rock doesn’t sound generically produced or overdone and has that faint ruggedness that catapulted The Fray to fame.
Photos courtesy Epic Records