Album Review: The Fray, 'Scars & Stories'

76 Billboard Rating

The Fray
"Scars & Stories"
Producer: Brendan O'Brien
Label: Epic Records
Release Date: Feb. 7

After sales of its self-titled 2009 sophomore album fell far short of 2005's "How to Save a Life," the Fray pushes to "put it all back together" on its latest album, "Scars & Stories." The Denver quartet shakes things up with new producer Brendan O'Brien, and many of the dozen songs achieve the kind of meatiness that the group approached tentatively on The Fray. The troupe's stock in trade remains frontman Isaac Slade's earnest lyricism and a lush, anthemic ambience that marks similar territory to U2 and Coldplay on tracks like "The Fighter," "Run for Your Life" and "Munich." "Here We Are" and the martial-rhythmed "The Wind" are the set's hardest rockers, while "1961" gets a touch more raw. Elsewhere, "Turn Me On" mines the white-bread funk of Maroon 5, "48 to Go" offers a rootsy mainland U.S.A. travelogue, and lullaby "Be Still" closes the album with a gentle Celtic tinge. It's not a complete overhaul, but Scars & Stories pushes things perceptibly forward.

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