I was recently driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, admiring the skyline and enjoying the finally summer-ish weather. My windows were rolled down, which obviously coincided with my radio being turned up really loud despite the lack of quality music on any of the stations. Finally, I came across a song that sounded familiar and was relatively catchy, hence giving my finger a break from the scan button. It only took me one listen at the chorus to memorize its simple words and melody: “Everyone knows I’m in/Over my head/Over my head/With eight seconds left in overtime/She’s on your mind/She’s on your mind.”
According to the radio DJ, I was listening to The Fray’s “Over My Head” off their latest effort, How to Save a Life (2005). When I got home later that evening, I decided to (legally) download the album. “She Is,” the first song of 12, left me anticlimactically bored. The line “She is everything I need that I never knew wanted” was repeated so many times that I found myself actually getting irritated.
I promptly fastforwarded to the next track.
Again, it sounded familiar, it being “Over My Head,” the song that started my downloading frenzy in the first place. But, wait a minute. If my ears aren’t deceiving me, this song isn’t really that good. Upon second listen, I quickly discovered that there was nothing particularly impressive about this track. I must have mistakenly and unworthily displaced my happy-go-lucky summer mood onto the radio. After listening to the first sixth of the album, I decided that The Fray can be described as Train meets Five For Fighting – at best.
I gave the album one last chance by listening to its third track, the title song, “How to Save a Life.” At first I thought my iTunes was on repeat. Certainly, this is the same track I just finished listening to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Turns out The Fray aren’t big on the idea of mixing it up a little.
Variety not being the album’s strong suit, I never listened to the last two songs, but I’m pretty sure I know exactly how they sound. After not being able to distinguish “Fall Away” from “Heaven Forbid” from “Look After You” and being too bored to even try, I decided to cancel the download of the album. I will spare you the details and simply say that How To Save A Life is not only bland with its simple lyrics and simple percussion, but it’s oftentimes annoying with its sing-song tone and excessively repetitive choruses. If a band includes a piano in its instrumentation and still can’t manage to stand out, it’s really disappointing to me.