This is the debut album from the Denver-based foursome The Fray, features 12 melodic pop-rock songs and soaring vocals that resonate with sprawling tapestries and tales of hopefulness and heartache. Their debut release How To Save A Life showcases The Fray's style - a sophisticated, emotional blend of tinkling pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, and gently insistent rhythms that serves as an ideal backdrop for lead singer Isaac Slade's pitch-perfect, achingly beautiful vocals. The album includes the addictive single Over My Head (Cable Car) and the title track, How To Save A Life, a heartbreaking meditation on salvation inspired by Slade's experience as a mentor to a crack-addicted teen. Epic. 2005.
On their full-length debut, Denver quartet the Fray don't exactly reinvent the wheel, but those looking for melodic, mid-tempo pop could do far worse. That said, the 12 songs on Top 40 hit How To Save a Life
are barely distinguishable from each other. If you like one, you'll probably like the rest (and you'll be in the company of thousands of other listeners.) If you don't like one, it's unlikely the others will change your mind. Formed in 2002 and signed by Epic in 2004, the band consists of Isaac Slade (vocals, piano), Joe King (guitar, vocals), Ben Wysocki (drums), and Dave Welsh (guitar). Since their formation, the Fray have elicited comparisons to British groups like Coldplay and Keane, and American ones like Counting Crows and the Wallflowers. They've also toured with Weezer and Ben Folds and had songs--like first single "Over My Head (Cable Car)"--featured on such popular programs as Grey's Anatomy
. Though they incorporate guitar, unlike Keane, Slade's expert piano playing is prominent on every track. To his credit, he can also hit the high notes just as gracefully as Coldplay's Chris Martin, but therein lies the rub: As with the band as a whole, Slade hasn't quite found his own voice yet. How To Save a Life
is polished and professional, bland and inoffensive. It goes down easy, but evaporates into the ether just as quickly. --Kathleen C. Fennessy