Monday, February 13, 2012

Album Review. "Scars & Stories" by The Fray.

Scars & Stories is the third studio album by American alternative rock band, The Fray. It was released on February 7th, 2012.
The band spent a portion of their budget for this album to travel the world and hence, most of the 12 songs on this album have been inspired by their travels.

The Fray are:
Isaac Slade - Lead vocals, piano
Joe King - Backing vocals, bass guitar, rhythm guitar
Dave Welsh - Lead guitar
Ben Wysocki - Drums

Here is a short review of all the songs on the album.

Track #1: Heartbeat
The album kicks off with this disappointing track, which tries hard but does not work for me. The chorus is uninspiring and nothing about the song makes you want to go back for a repeat hearing.

Track #2: The Fighter
This should have been the first track, ideally. Isaac Slade's wonderful vocals backed by consistent, rhythmic riffs throughout by Dave Welsh and Joe King, make this of the two best tracks on this album. 

Track #3: Turn Me On
Listening to this song is like peeling off layers. From the outset, the funky bass line suggests that this will be a catchy song. Foot-tapping music. The girls will like this one.

Track #4: Run For Your Life
I reckon this will turn out to be one of the more popular tracks on the album. Very good work on the guitars and brilliant songwriting.

Track #5: The Wind
Everything about this track is likeable except one thing - the music during the chorus. One gets the feeling that Dave Welsh (lead guitar) and Ben Wysocki (drums) are holding back when it matters the most. Need more strength, conviction and a fuller sound in the chorus.
Apart from this, throughout the song there is beautiful layering of the guitars over Slade's vocals.

Track #6: 1961
The sound of 1961 as a whole is a sore disappointment. Unremarkable.

Track #7: I Can Barely Say
Beautiful song. Pained lyrics. Wonderful vocals by Slade. Backed only by the piano, this song is full in it's sound.

Track #8: Munich
By far, the best track on the album. Everyone will agree with me on this. Munich has what The Wind was lacking - a strong chorus.
Soft rock at it's best. In addition to the the piano, guitars and drums, this track also has the violin layering seamlessly to create a wonderful, rich sound. Arguably one of their best tracks of all-time.

Track #9: Here We Are
One of those songs which start, finish and you don't even realize. And if you do happen to notice anything, it is the only thing the fact that the chorus becomes supremely annoying as the song wears on.

Track #10: 48 To Go
Rest assured, this song will grow on you. And it won't take 48 repeat hearings. A good song.

Track #11: Rainy Zurich
As with most good songs, it is the bass line on this one that makes it work. Take a bow, Joe King. Love this track.

Track #12: Be Still
The final song on Scars & Stories is a slow, moving ballad. With only the piano accompanying Slade's mellifluous vocals, this a perfect ending to a solid record.

By no means is this a groundbreaking record. The Fray stay true to their strength, a piano-driven pop-rock sound; and come up with a consistent record which neither bowls you over nor makes you toggle to the next artist on your music player.
Though this album will not give us any runaway successes like 'How To Save A Life', 'Over My Head' and 'You Found Me', it has firmly established this Colorado-based quartet as masters of their formula.
If you are a fan of this band, you will enjoy the album. If you aren't, I suggest you start with the previous two albums before listening to this one.

Rating: 6.5/10

Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own. Not everyone will agree with this assessment. Feel free to post your comments. :)

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