Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#122: The Fray - How To Save A Life (2005)

Because of their piano driven rock music (which hails from Denver) they're linked to bands like Coldplay and Keane. However, I don't think they're much like them. Despite the instrumentation similarities I believe they're much more of a "typical" rock band that just happens to use a piano over guitar. While the piano can really drive the song, it also doesn't mind banging out some chords.

Over My Head (Cable Car)
The only thing better than the incredibly big hooks are the overwhelming, feel good choruses. Slade has a perfect voice for this music and the instrumentation throughout is quite good. While it's piano driven music, the bass and drums provide enough punch to still consider this a rock type album. One of my favorite parts of this track is instead of bringing back this big chorus, they just have this simple guitar picking - which then leads back into the chorus. It's a bit of a fake out but it provides familiarity with a punch.

All At Once
What makes this album so good are the melodies. They're incredibly catchy, fun to sing along to, and when you throw in the production value - it makes the album very solid. I love the way they introduce instruments, they start out with this very dirty riff and it completely changes the feel. It's not what you expect but it feels right. While the guitar may be a bit further back in the mix than I'd like it to be, I also understand they needed to leave room for the harmonies and well as reintroduce the guitar later as a "new" part. The band does a wonderful job of creating a wall of sound so the vocals can really carry the listener.

Heaven Forbid
"How To Save a Life" isn't necessarily the pinnacle of this record (creatively), it was however the peak commercially. I'm glad that the other songs aren't trying to be it, this isn't a wood shedding process in which we're listening to a band trying to find it's big hit, and honestly - that was my number one fear going into this record. I know I shouldn't commend them for doing something they shouldn't do, but each song stands on it's own and the album doesn't run together. I realize I didn't talk about this particular song at all, but it's the best track on the album.

All in all, I'm surprised how much I liked it. It's not earth shattering, it's not mind blowing, but it's solid. Oddly, it does feel a bit dated only 7 years as it was part of a movement of similar artists, but the song writing holds up. I'll definitely pick up another one of their albums as soon as I get through this giant list of stuff in front of it.

Tomorrow's album: Fred Neil's Fred Neil.

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