There you were, thinking that The Fray were one-album-wonders. No such luck: the piano-playing pop-rockers are still hugely successful almost four years after their breakthrough hit 'How to Safe a Life', leaving a trail of several Grammy nominations and a host of international number ones in their wake. A band who owe a large portion of their popularity to the musical co-ordinators of 'Grey's Anatomy', the Colorado quartet's second album is as safe and predictable as that TV programme.
Like Marc Cohn on fizzy pop, lead singer and pianist Isaac Slade writes beefy, radio-friendly songs for the masses, and it can't be denied that his voice is strong, his playing adept. Yet a band who are so terrified of colouring outside the lines - there's no evidence of any musical evolution here, just the same fatigued balladry and humdrum beats - are so obviously lacking heart that they may as well not exist.
The same mix of piano pomp (Syndicate, Where the Story Ends) and overwrought, anguished slushfests (You Found Me, Absolute) provide the organs of this cadaverous record, with only the thankfully understated 'Ungodly Hour' going some way to redress the balance. A softly-played, gently-drummed track, it's probably the only truly honest song on the record - although the tempo change of 'We Build Then We Break' also adds some variance. Truly, though, you do not need an album like this - or a band like The Fray - in your life. Unless, of course, you're desperately seeking an 'emotional' song to soundtrack a poignant death scene on a hit TV show. If that's the case, you've got ten of them here.