A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the worst these meditative lyrics will do is bore kids who lack the patience to decipher their understated messages about conflicted emotions and troubled relationships.
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What's the story?
Power piano-pop band The Fray is back with its self-titled, sophomore album, recapitulating the process that made its first record, How to Save a Life, such a huge hit: the group once again used the TV show Grey's Anatomy to unveil the new album's first single, "You Found Me." Grey's adult-alternative audience is appropriate for both the show and this CD, since each revolves largely around mature, relationship-based themes. The Fray doesn't use graphic language or references to recount these themes, but the group's lyrics remain cryptically introspective: "Later on if it turns to chaos / Hurricane coming all around us / See the crack, pull it back from the window / You stay low, say when." The record wraps up with four live tracks, one of which is an acoustic version of their smash single, "How to Save a Life."
Is it any good?
The best things about the band's first CD -- a strong piano presence and singer Isaac Slade's lovely high notes -- surface on the second album (see the track "Ungodly Hour" for a particularly good example). Otherwise, The Fray's music still suffers from monotony, with some of the songs sounding so similar that it's hard to tell them apart. While this approach doesn't lend itself to critical greatness, it does make for several hit songs when you land a chart-topper (i.e., "How to Save a Life" from the first album) and continue to repeat the sound over and over. To that end, kids are sure to hear plenty more songs from The Fray flooding the airwaves; whether they'll actually pay attention to the tunes' pensive lyrics is another matter.