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4.5 out of 5 stars
22
4.5 out of 5 stars
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'How to Save a Life', the first studio album by The Fray is a real favourites of mine. This American indie band's early music saw me right through my secondary school and college days, and their first hits will forever have a special place in my heart. I have since caught up with their more recent releases, and their last album to date, last year's 'Helios' is another fine edition to my music shelves, but it remains my least favourite of the four.

Make no mistake, this is a different sound to the early stuff, almost like a different band entirely, and a lot of what made me enjoy The Fray so much at the beginning isn't here. It relies a lot on big electronic beats, and the result is an uplifting and decent pop-rock record, but no great classic. If you want music to make you feel good whilst you're drinking to just socialising with friends, then I'd suggest you slip 'Helios' on. Personally though, I still prefer the darker and more reflective music The Fray did so brilliantly at the beginning, when they turned out heartfelt tunes to listen too quietly and think.

This album is loaded with energy and some good tunes, especially the opener 'Hold My Hand' (which probably sounds the most like something on 'How to Save A Life'), but it's not The Fray I love the most.
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VINE VOICEon 3 April 2014
My my... The Fray have come a long way since their debut album. Their style has certainly undergone many changes through the previous albums, and Helios is no different. In fact, it's a huge jump from their early work - so much so that I dare say old-school fans will pretty much be listening to a completely different band. Personally, I love it and think they've pulled it off - It's different and a refreshing sound, but keeps the quality we've come to expect. It seems a bit darker, edgy and electronic - allowing a whole host of different instruments to lead the way. What I will say, it probably shares more overtones with Scars & Stories - So if you didn't like that album, it's probably best to avoid this one (If you haven't heard it yet, I'd try that one first)

To be honest, the only real give-away that this is still The Fray are Isaac Slade's vocals which, grudgingly, are the biggest let-down of the album. I've never had a problem with his voice, but it really seems to grate in places - which is a shame, considering how well it'd developed in the last album. Maybe the mixing was poorly done, maybe he's tried to yell his way through some of the songs, maybe he's picked up a 30-Malboro-a-day smoking habit since the last release... either way, the album has patches of breathy singing, croaky yelling and catching his breath which undermine a few of the songs. All I will say, give the first song a listen: If you can get by the yelling of "HOLE MAH HEHND" in the chorus, then you'll be fine

1. Hold My Hand - The guys kick-start the album in the usual explosive style. It's big, bold and pretty much sets the precedent for what to expect
2. Love Don't Die - I love this one! It's a bit dance/funky and the chorus is superb. The backing vocals really push it to another level
3. Give It Away - They really show off their new edgy style here. I can't help but reminded of the Friendly Fires. It's quirky and can lead to unflattering funky chair dancing
4. Closer To Me - This one's good fun. You want a bit more from the chorus, but it's a damn good song lead by an excellent upbeat hook
5. Hurricane - Not bad. Powerful, drum-lead and certainly more for gigs
6. Keep On Waiting - Really reminiscent of the sound of their 2nd album and the style that fans likely fell in love with - It's like a ballad but the music makes it much more powerful
7. Our Last Days - A welcome back for the piano, which largely took a back-seat this album. Another sharing excellent overtones with the 2nd album
8. Break Your Plans - 2nd visit from the piano. A very nice laid back piece that builds to a delightful driving chorus
9. Wherever This Goes - This one I hate. The backing vocals are really annoying. Instead of sounding like some sort of Gospel Song with an angelic choir, I find it sounds quite flat and droll
10. Shadow And A Dancer - The album starts to round off with this excellent piece. It's an elegant ballad that builds into a really nice closer. The only slightly off-putting element is Isaac constantly catching his breath before each line
11. Same As You - A quaint finisher to follow the last song's excellent finish. It's a quieter, sombre piece which works in Isaac's favour as the singing is softer and has the cleaner, elegant sound of the previous albums

All in all, it's a superb album. The sound is quite a jump and they try out many new things... but it comes together very well and adds another string to the already formidable bow of The Fray

Peace
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on 9 April 2014
The early albums have so many good sounds that it is hard to stand this up against them. However here we have a fine album but it just seems to have drifted a little and does not hit the same exact spot. The quality of voice is not as sweet and the songs not as fine. If there was nothing to compare with than it would be rated higher I guess but the first two albums are clasics. There is enegy here and a little more drive but how do you top 'How to save a life'.
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on 4 March 2014
Very similar style to the previous 3 albums, but if it ain't broke....
Well worth a buy if you are already a Fray Fan. Hold My Hand is one of their best songs for a long time.
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on 15 March 2014
This is an exceptional CD, and long awaited following their previous album. Its very similar to the previous releases, in the their three CDs could almost have been issued as a set, but the album still manages to stand by itself. Plunky and catchy beats in a couple of the tracks help to bring it up to date. The Fray have found a groove that suits them and this album proves that going with what you know, and refining and tweaking it very slightly, works!
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on 3 May 2014
A Big return to form for The Fray and about time, best material since debut album with an edgier sound.
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on 23 February 2015
The product itself in terms of music is great, and I'm please I bought it. However I was very disappointed to see that the seller had put a huge label across the back of the case, hiding two cracks, so I'm quite disappointed by that.
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on 28 June 2014
I have all Fray albums they are great and Helios is just excellent. I haven't taken out of the cd slot in my car since I bought it...brilliant!! It's on my ipod too so played wherever I am.
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on 17 December 2014
Keen on the Fray and have several previous albums. This one's not bad overall with loads of the usual Fray energy and softer ballads
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on 23 November 2016
it was delivered on time. and its good to listen to in my car. it plays great.
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