The Fray: Helios

heliosThe Fray
(Epic Records)

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With the release of their fourth album, Denver-based band The Fray color slightly outside of their usual lines, which typically lean to the dark side. Helios is brighter than their previous albums while staying true to the band’s soulful lyrics and piano ballads.

The Fray switched it up by working with London producer and DJ Stuart Price. Price’s background in electronic music pushed the album into new directions for, including a little pop rock, funk and even a touch of electronic music.

Helios starts with “Hold My Hand,” a classic-sounding Fray song with raw, honest lyrics portraying the kind of window every woman wants to open so she can peak into a man’s soul. There’s no fluff here. They pick up the pace with “Love Don’t Die,” a foot-stomping song destined for radio play and perhaps the best track on the album. A close runner-up is “Hurricane” that has a solid rock sound that could be a climatic movie montage. “Break Your Plans,” is a sure bet for long time fans of The Fray. It’s marginally depressive with a ray of hope and includes the most graceful lyrics on the album. The last two songs “Shadow and Dancer” and “Same as You,” are the most experimental tracks. The Fray drop the heavy piano and guitars and include synths and percussive sounds that fringe on ambient music. The lyrics remain true though, showing the band can only bend so much before the return to their roots.

Helios is a great album. It takes the band to new levels while keeping the best parts intact. It’s refreshing to hear the lighter sound, which gives the impression that the members are simply happier. This is a relief as some of their previous singles had me a little worried for the guys.

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