Album Review: The Fray – Helios2 min read
Helios is the fourth full-length studio release from Colorado-based quartet The Fray, following 2012’s Scars & Stories. Helios sees the group distance themselves slightly from the straight piano-ballad style they’re known for and instead experiment with electronic beats and a more up-beat sound. Don’t fret, Fray fans – they haven’t abandoned their original style, just created an album with some alternative tracks – and pulled it off wonderfully.
Firstly, I want to talk about the album’s lead single – Love Don’t Die, which is the second track featured on Helios. This song sounds like something from Adele mixed with The Wombats and mixed with a bit of Matchbox 20 – nothing like The Fray. The only recognisable feature is Isaac Slade’s distinctive voice which seamlessly weaves between lower and higher notes throughout the soulful rock melody of the track. Built over a catchy bass line which gives way to some heavier rock & roll drumming and electric guitar work, the track is a step out of the comfort zone for The Fray and pleasantly shows off their ability to produce more complex and varied music than what we’re used to from them. It was an effective choice as the first single, offering the first hint at the album and its creativity.
Going back to the opening track now, Hold My Hand starts the album off in usual The Fray fashion, with Slade’s passionate vocals accompanied by a strong piano background and a huge, anthemic chorus. This song wouldn’t be out of place as the record’s next single, with a powerful vibe similar to You Found Me or Never Say Never from the bands 2009 self-titled release.
A highlight within the album is Hurricane, a track which features some distortion and some impressive electric guitar riffs as Slade sings about a woman who, although “barely 5ft2” is fierce, powerful and elusive – a hurricane (“I should run and hide with fear/But I can’t look away/She’s a hurricane”). This song is full of passion and energy, showing off a very electronic-rock-oriented side to the four-piece.
Helios concludes with Same As You, a slow paced track once again showing off the frontman’s superb vocals as he effortlessly hits the high notes. The track incorporates the use of a xylophone as well as effective backing vocals which layer the song and provide beautiful texture to this smooth tune, ending the album on a mellow note.
The album features a mix of heavier rock numbers and simple piano-based ballads, throwing in some electronica to produce a refreshing collection for the band to add to their catalogue. The new album sees the group taking a few risks, incorporating a heavier sound and utilizing genres previously unused on previous records with superb results.