Style: Radio ready pop-rock; compare to Coldplay, Switchfoot, Augustana
Top tracks: "Here We Are," "The Fighter," "Be Still"
Multi-platinum-selling The Fray flexes more muscle on its third release, Scars & Stories, and brings welcome variety to its usual piano rock. Grittier guitars and pulsing backdrops make a good match for Isaac Slade's urgent vocals. The fluctuating falsetto of piano ballad "I Can Barely Say" still sounds whiny, but "Be Still" forsakes the vocal melodrama in a reassuringly beautiful psalm. Those looking will catch glimpses of the band's Christian faith beneath relational landscapes of love, lust, yearning, and belonging. There's some intrigue to these stories, and their hooks are the stuff of radio hits. But lyrical metaphors don't always shake free of cliché. Enjoy the album as musical summer blockbuster, not arthouse innovation.1
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