“Helios” – The Fray

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In a world where popular rock music has been completely taken hostage by the likes of Imagine Dragons and OneRepublic, one band stands tall to battle this vicious monopoly. That band is The Fray, and their fourth studio album, Helios, was released last week, February 25th. Does the band succeed in thwarting the evil intentions of their adversaries? Only time will tell (But they probably won’t).

Although the album as a whole is not particularly anything special, it has some tracks that really stand out. Just like The Fray’s 2005 debut had “How To Save A Life” and “Over My Head (Cable Car),” and their 2009 self-titled release had “You Found Me,” Helios has two or three single-worthy tracks. The already released first single, “Love Don’t Die,” is a foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ good time. The harmonies in the chorus are reminiscent of the Barenaked Ladies song, “Get In Line,” but they fit the attitude of the song very well. The second you hear frontman Isaac Slade’s distinct voice, you know you’re listening to The Fray. The very next track, “Give It Away,” is definitely the band’s funkiest song to date. If anyone has heard Maroon 5’s last good album (Hands All Over), they would know this Fray tune would fit perfectly on that album. The rich piano lines, congas, and cowbell certainly add to the grooviness of the track and make it that much catchier. The only other song that stands out on this album is “Our Last Days,” and this is classic Fray. The stomping bass drum keeps the song sounding modern, but it is highly centered around the piano and synth parts, just like “How To Save A Life” and “You Found Me.” The string outro is a nice touch as well.

All in all, besides these few big singles, much of the rest of the album is nothing special. Most tracks are either sappy ballads or an attempt at discovering a new sound. “Hurricane” sounds like the band’s attempt at a house rocker (which fails), and “Shadow And A Dancer” sounds like The Fray trying to be overly sophisticated with their lyrics like The Killers (a.k.a. “Human”). If you’re like me and only have The Fray’s other big singles on your iPod, then definitely stick to the three main tracks I mentioned above and avoid the rest of the album unless you’re a die-hard Fray fan. To end on a positive note, at least Helios is better than The Fray’s last album (Bonus points to anyone who can name a song off that album, or even what that album was called…).

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: Love Don’t Die, Give It Away, Our Last Days

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