Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The Fray – Love Don’t Die

In which we beg to differ.


David Sheffieck: The Fray have practically made an art form of having no discernible identity: every album seems to bring a few singles that latch onto a sound that was peaking a year before, presumably right around the time the band began recording. So it only makes sense that in this incarnation The Fray have taken their cue from ho hey folk and injected their “sound” (as much as they can be said to have a sound) with acoustic plucking, chanted background vocals and clapped/stomped percussion. On the one hand, it’s a strategy that’s had diminishing returns since “How to Save a Life;” on the other, we’re still talking about them.

Brad Shoup: This is certainly a reasonable progression for them. I didn’t think to guess, but big bass drums, rootsy guitar riffs, and soaring backing vocals were certainly a possibilities. The sexy look isn’t great on them; you can practically hear them clenching, killing time until the chorus. At least OneRepublic makes it look effortless.

Anthony Easton: This has a solid beat, excellent hand claps, a propulsive vocal, and a joyous choir, yet I am still bored. So much effort, so few results. 

Alfred Soto: Here are the boys getting frantic over Bo Diddley riffs, church bells, electronic gewgaws, and echo echo and more echo. Somebody’s been listening to Eric Church. I’ll bet on “Counting Stars” though.

Patrick St. Michel: So he’s Mumford-singing about…what, being a hard-headed jerk? Loving a blow-up doll? Whatever it is, I don’t like this.

Mallory O’Donnell: Of course it’s utter nonsense, but one has to admire the sheer muscularity. Starting life as some kind of angry skiffle, it successfully navigates the murky waters of post-grunge and post-industrial to emerge as a high-kicking, beer-spilling Irish pop jaunt. Throw some lies about love on top, wait for the soundtrack deal.

Katherine St Asaph: Mr. Fray wears NIN vocal fry and “Rolling in the Deep” menace like high schoolers wear trenchcoats. I was actually relieved once the Of Monsters and Men backing vocals came in; genial is preferable to embarrassing.

Megan Harrington: The “ah ah ah” backing vocal in the chorus sounds just enough like Alexis Krauss during the intro to “Infinity Guitars” that I believe one of these squares — Ryan Tedder, Cueball of the Fray, take your pick — listened to Sleigh Bells more than I did during my blackout years. However, Krauss was the She Ra lurking behind every gulp of High Life and these are dudes flexing their jaws and fingers whenever the A&R man pulls a string. 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The smug, bland affirmations offered by the lyrics; the wholly expected hook of choral WHOAs; the fake grit of the vocal delivery; the blues worn as a signifier of Real Music rather than incorporated with passion; no wit, no soul, nada. Not to oversell it, but “Love Don’t Die” is The Fray tumbling astonishingly off the top of the Real Music tree and hitting every branch on the way down. Get it in the bin.

Edward Okulicz: The groove and the dancy beat together is a clever, if not masterful, bit of magpie collage work, but then The Fray put a whole bunch of other superfluous stuff on top that detracts from them — what were they thinking with those bells, for starters? The backing vocals seem to be laughing politely at the excess. And then there’s the dude’s voice, which is still too wimpy even when it tries to rise manfully to the titular line in the chorus. Interesting and adventurous, but not very satisfying.

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One Response to “The Fray – Love Don’t Die”

  1. Why is Stuart Price slumming it producing for these dudes anyway?