On Feb. 7, 2012, The Fray released their much-anticipated third long-play album, “Scars & Stories.” The album is unlikely to leave The Fray fans disappointed. As a whole, the album fits together nicely and is distinguishable from their two previous albums, while at the same time retaining the characteristic features of The Fray—it is uplifting, sentimental, packed with emotion, and full of addictive beats.
The piano seems to be less prominent which is not necessarily good or bad. The following is a review of the songs:
“Heartbeat” (8.4/10) This song was the first single. It is good but it does not showcase Slade’s vocals very well and there was not much in the way of lyrics. As one iTunes reviewer put it, “there is not enough to sing along to.”
“The Fighter” (10/10) This is the flagship song of the album. It has interesting instrumentation and rhythm that allows Slade’s vocals to really shine. This song is likely to be the second single.
“Turn Me On” (9.2/10) This is a good song with a slight edge and a good beat.
“Run For Your Life” (9.6/10) This is an excellent song with meaningful and substantial lyrics and lots of emotion. I almost want to sing along with the chorus in an arena with other The Fray fans — it just has that feel to it. It also has an edge while simultaneously being extremely serene.
“The Wind” (8.5/10) This is a unique song that has an epic sound to it. Joe King does great backup vocals. The only downside is that it seems a bit disjointed.
“1961” (9.4/10) This song complements “Turn Me On” pretty well. The vocals are awesome and haunting, and once again, I love King’s prominent presence with backup vocals. It is slow-moving but keeps a good beat.
“I Can Barely Say” (9.4/10) This song brings back the piano and reminds me of “Hundred” from their first album. It is a good song to listen to alone at night when you’re feeling kind of down.
“Munich” (9.0/10) This song is good and features Slade’s vocals noticeably higher than usual. It reminds me of a song by Snow Patrol, which isn’t a bad thing. The song is heartfelt and epic sounding.
“Here We Are” (9.1/10) this is perhaps the edgiest song on the album. It is done well, but I am disappointed when I compare to their other edgier songs such as “We Build Then We Break” or “Little House.” It is a solid track nonetheless.
“48 to Go” (10/10) This may be the overlooked gem of this album (meaning it may not be a single) just like “Say When” from their second album. This song is excellent and is arguably the best on the album. If anything, it ties with “The Fighter” for the number one spot. It has a similar beat to “The Fighter” but is unique. The best moment of this album (not just this song) is when Joe King and Isaac Slade say “blowing your hair back” together, with equal force. Usually, each singer either does lead or backup vocals but they sing on top of one another here and it works perfectly. They are two great singers and they are almost twice as good combined. I want to see more of this on the next album.
“Rainy Zurich” (9.9/ 10) This is Joe King’s song and he delivers at his best. It is better than the album version of “Ungodly Hour” and can stand its own next to “Heaven Forbid.” King should have at least two songs per album.
“Be Still” (7.2/10) This should have been a bonus track like “Fair Fight” was for their second album. It just is not that good, compared with the rest of the album. It is too slow and boring and repetitive. I do not feel like it even does justice to Slade’s vocals.
I have not listened extensively to the bonus tracks on the iTunes deluxe album, but I am disappointed that they are all covers of bands inferior to, and very different from, The Fray. It is unfortunate that The Fray is inspired by Bruce Springsteen. Issac Slade clearly does not understand how good his voice is. The bonus songs should be b-sides from this album, of which there are probably plenty. In fact, the actual song “Scars & Stories” was taken out because it did not make the cut, according to Slade. Why not give us that as a bonus track?
Besides the disappointment of the bonus tracks all being cover versions of other songs, this is a solid album. Everyone who likes pop and/or rock music should be able to enjoy The greatness of the Fray, and, of course, devout fans will find plenty to like on this third album. Overall, I would give this album a rating of 9.7 out of 10.
Bill Hanrahan is a fourth-year student majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at WH750431@wcupa.edu.