The Fray

In the future, entire universities will be staffed by legions of cultural archaeologists toiling for decades to fully catalogue the extent of the atrocities that Coldplay has inflicted upon the world. Besides their own music -- which, admit it, sounds like a Gap-plastered Radiohead giving a dry-ice enema to Sting -- Chris Martin and crew have inspired a million shitty bands to go forth and start sucking all over the place.

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One of those bands is Denver's own the Fray (due this Sunday, February 22, at Boulder's Fox Theatre, with Bop Skizzum), which recently released this disc of seven heavily Coldplay-influenced songs. Logically, it should also suck. Any sane person would want it to suck. And yet...it doesn't. Huh? Everything is there to hate: the "soaring" vocals, the "delicate" piano, the "ethereal" guitars, the syrupy sentiments that tug at the strings of your Abercrombie & Fitch fleece hoodie. Maybe it's the cover that saves it; the artwork on the disc sure is nice and tasteful. It's certainly not the band's name, which evokes images of instantly obsolete garage rockers prancing and preening like Mick Jagger and David Bowie in that really bad video for Dancing in the Street. No, there's one reason why the Fray is actually fifty times more listenable than Coldplay: The Fray isn't utterly full of shit. As humble as Martin and company try to act in every photo shoot and interview, they're fucking rock stars. They make a hundred thousand dollars a day and impregnate Gwyneth Paltrow, and they know it. The members of the Fray, however, probably live on your block, and that girl they're singing about is probably your sister. Their music is epic, no doubt, but it's played on a wholly human scale. Honesty bleeds from it. The vulnerability is palpable. The tunes have a pulse-like dynamism to them, a rawness that reeks of everyday cataclysms, of solace sought in song. Someday, when those historians are unearthing the remnants of the American Empire, hopefully a copy of this disc will fall into the hands of the future-men and they'll figure out that, hey, maybe the 21st century wasn't all evil (www.thefray.net).

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