Pop-rock Denver, CO natives The Fray have pretty much been releasing slightly altered versions of their debut How to Save a Life for the past two albums and it was hard to not assume that their newest release would be any different. Well, I’ve got to admit that I was surprised to hear new elements incorporated into Helios and it’s definitely brought more spark to their music.
Helios starts off strong with the very piano-focus-builds-up-to-full-band “Hold My Hand” (PS: They curse. Shocker!) and is followed by its first released single “Love Don’t Die”, which sounds similar to Jet‘s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” with slight country elements. Current single “Hurricane” is very Coldplay meets Mumford & Sons in terms of sound – with all the charm of past hits “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “Heartbeat” – and is the most obvious difference in pace compared to their past singles. The album also ends with a strong track in the form of “Same As You”, a Kings of Leon-esque song about living in the moment and not having anyone dictate how you should live your life.
It’s hard to pick a favorite track because The Fray tends to make all of their songs sound relatively the same, but “Shadow and a Dancer” and “Give It Away” are definitely the ones to take a closer listen to as they stand out a lot more than the rest. “Shadow and a Dancer” sounds like a deeply romantic version of Muse‘s “Madness”. It successfully combines ethereal instrumentation with frontman Isaac Slade’s hauntingly raspy voice and the end product really makes you lose yourself in the music. “Give It Away” has a Maroon 5 kind of feel to it with the beat being surprisingly danceable. It’s apparent that they really wanted to show the fans a different side of their music and I’ve got to say I’m digging it. It’s got all the makings of a hit pop single and I wouldn’t be surprised if it hits the radio soon.
Helios is definitely more upbeat than their past works but The Fray still sticks to their original style of being heavily influenced by the piano. Hints of folk, indie and even disco give their songs a much-needed flavor. They’re following in the footsteps of fellow pop-rockers One Republic and Daughtry in terms of changing up their sound to cater to the listeners who are wrapped up in the peppy melodies pouring out of the radio. I don’t know about you, but I hope this new upbeat sound is here to stay.