When you think of emotive piano rock, it’s likely that The Fray comes to mind.
The band name itself might not be the first thing you think of, but their mega-hit singles ‘How To Save A Life’ and ‘You Found Me’ epitomize the dramatic man-ballad. Thankfully, on ‘Helios’, they are eager to show a bit of variety.
Lead single ‘Love Don’t Die’ is a bit rockier than previous singles, and we kind of dig that it’s not as polished as you would expect. We were also a bit taken back by lead singer Isaac Slade’s sultry vocals, as usually they just sound kind of anxious.
This air of confidence continues in ‘Give It Away’ with its funky guitar riff and…well…hippy swagger. Never thought we’d say that about The Fray, but more power to them we suppose.
Radio is less open-minded than us though, so the boys have thoughtfully provided plenty of the piano man-ness that we have come to expect from them on further album cuts.
‘Keep On Wanting’ is a Snow Patrol-esque big ballad moment whereas ‘One Last Day’ and ‘Hold My Hand’ are pure piano stormers.
Perhaps ‘Helios’s most interesting moment is ‘Shadow And A Dancer’. It begins a bit like Beyonce’s ‘XO’ (but not as good) before building into a mid-tempo chorus with some nice echoey ‘woahs’ thrown into the background. We also liked the anthemic ‘Hurricane’, which builds into quite a U2 throwback.
Usually we don’t like it when bands mimics others artists too much, in the process forgetting their own sound, but in this case it’s far preferable than a whole album of The Fray-by-numbers.
Sadly, by having such a distinctive sound, it is easy to recognize that the piano ballads on here do not reflect the high standards set by previous singles.
Props on them for taking a risk though, and it’s those songs you should add to your collection!
Download: Love Don’t Die, Give It Away, Hurricane