Meet Isaac, Joe, Ben and Dave. They're in a band called The Fray. The Fray are the newest 'global rock sensation', and will be coming to a stadium near you faster than you can say 'Bono is a twat'. Taking their lead from bands like Coldplay, Keane, Counting Crows and yes, U2, (sense a theme here?), the Denver quartet formed in 2002 while still at high school, and chose their name because of their regular disagreements over the lyrical content of their songs.(?) So far, so bland. What makes them different from any other radio-friendly pop-rock band - apart from the fact that the piano features more prominently in their songs than say, Nickelback or The Calling? On this evidence, absolutely nothing. How to Save a Life, despite selling over 2 million copies in the US, spawning several top 10 hits worldwide and - *WARNING, WARNING!* even siring a track that appeared on an episode of Grey's Anatomy - is as forgettable as your Alzheimer's-riddled Granny. Each of the twelve tracks here are almost indistinguishable from each other; from the first bars of She Is to the denouement of Trust Me, The Fray stick to their blueprint of 'heartfelt' piano intros, huge, lighter-waving choruses and Isaac Slade's affected 'hurrr' vocals (two parts Eddie Vedder, one part Anthony Kiedis), and resolutely refuse to deviate from it. Both hits - Over My Head and How to Save a Life - are soppy, cliche-ridden dirges, Fall Away and Dead Wrong attempt to be dramatic and brooding (and fail miserably on both counts), while the rest of the lamentations-masquerading-as-songs are barely worth mentioning. If perhaps The Fray used the piano as innovatively as former touring partner Ben Folds, things would be different, but this is daytime radio-friendly fodder at its finest - invariable, overlong and supremely self-indulgent. "It's coming down to nothing more than apathy / I'd rather run the other way than stay and see". You said it, boys. If this is saving a life, throw me to the lions.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Tuesday 13th March 2007 | Album Review