Scars & Stories

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Scars & Stories
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 7, 2012
RecordedMarch–June 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee
ProducerBrendan O'Brien
The Fray chronology
Christmas EP
Scars & Stories
Singles from Scars & Stories
  1. "Heartbeat"
    Released: October 11, 2011
  2. "Run for Your Life"
    Released: March 11, 2012

Scars & Stories is the third studio album by American alternative rock band The Fray. It was released on February 7, 2012.[1]


Scars & Stories was recorded beginning in March 2011, and concluded in July 2011. Unlike their debut album How to Save a Life and their self-titled second album, which were both produced by Aaron Johnson and Mike Flynn, their third album was produced by Brendan O'Brien.[2] During a performance at the Hard Rock cafe in Boston, Massachusetts, Isaac Slade stated that the album Scars & Stories was named after a B-side that did not make it onto the third record. He went on to explain that each of the band members have been through a lot of hardships, but collectively they were able to pull through.

"We've been through a lot of stuff personally, and as band we're still together, and I think we like the idea of scars you know, because they're healed you know. They are not like wounds necessarily, but they're still kind of a road map of where you been, and sometimes kinda point to where you want to go."[3]

The album artwork was revealed on November 16, 2011; following the video premiere of the first single, Heartbeat.

The album was made available to pre-order on October 18, 2011 on the band's website.[1] On December 20, 2011 the deluxe edition of the album became available for pre-order on iTunes, featuring 5 bonus tracks; all covers. In addition, the band made the single "The Fighter" available for download.

Writing and recording[edit]

During an interview with Vevo the band revealed that they used part of the album's budget to travel and see the world before writing and recording songs for Scars and Stories. The band wrote over 70 songs, and narrowed it down to what they hoped were the [best 12 songs], most of which were heavily influenced by their travels abroad.[4] For instance, the first single "Heartbeat" was inspired by a trip to Rwanda. Slade talked about his encounter with an expatriate woman who was talking about the genocides in Rwanda. In the midst of their conversation she held his hand, and he could feel a pulse, but was unable to tell if it was his pulse or hers.[5]

Also the song the sixth track titled "1961", personifies the Berlin Wall, as two brothers that are at odds with each other, but it makes you wonder about the third brother mentioned, America:

"We wrote that song about The Berlin Wall and the division it represented in regards to one unified city becoming two cities still under the covering of a country. They're both German, but in a sense, they were as far from each other as they could possibly be. I think that's how our relationships can be sometimes. Not to sound cliché, but we all as people build these walls that don't really come down until someone comes into our lives, tears them down, and says, 'Enough!'"[6]

In addition the eight track on the album titled "Munich" follows the same mode of inspiration, as it is inspired by a particle collider in Switzerland. During an interview Slade mentions that "...they're looking for the God Particle, basically, the particle that holds it all together. That song is really just about the mystery of why we're all here and what's holding it all together, you know?"[6]

"Scars & Stories may be nothing more than a pleasant retread of The Fray’s established style, but it does a commendable job of delivering quality in lieu of novelty. Every element of the band’s back catalogue can be found here, polished and presented just differently enough to give long time fans a reason to get excited. The record starts strong and gets stronger, with some of its best offerings coming at the back end of the album’s run time. The result is a record that, while admittedly comfortable in its lateral movement, continually improves until you feel like you have grown with it. There is just this overwhelming presence of worthwhile material – and a sheer surplus of catchiness – that enables Scars & Stories to unravel gradually and gracefully. So if a change in approach means looking towards greener pastures, then The Fray stand stubbornly within their established empire – and they deliver one hell of a defense."

Sputnikmusic's review of the album.[7]

Joe King explained "You pull from different locations and places. There’s the cultures and the different people you meet living life...You have to live life, you have to have experiences in order to be able to write stories.”[8] Such stories served as the inspiration for the tenth track entitled "48 To Go". During an interview with Jim Shearer on VH1's Big Morning Buzz Live Slade revealed that inspiration for this song came from a road trip he and his wife, Anna took (while they were just dating) from Denver, Colorado to Los Angeles. During the road trip they stopped multiple times to "make-out"; as a result they became lost and ended up 600 miles off course; as Isaac Slade put it "...[we were] two states in and forty-eight states to go".[9]

During a performance at the University at Buffalo, Isaac Slade mentions that he wrote the song "The Fighter" while on a "getaway" in a cottage, located in the mountains of Colorado. The song was inspired by a picture called "Strictly a Sharpshooter" by Norman Rockwell that he saw in a book he purchased. The painting depicts a boxer who has succumbed to his opponent, and a female companion by his side.[10]


Commercial performance[edit]

Scars & Stories debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 charts, with first-week sales of 87,000 copies.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Absolute Punk(7.5/10) [13]
Allmusic3/5 stars[14]
American Songwriter3.5/5 stars [15]
The A.V. Club(D)[16]
Entertainment Weekly(C+)[18]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[19]
Sputnikmusic3.5/5 stars[7]

Upon its release, the album received generally mixed reviews from music critics, and holds a Metacritic score of 55/100, indicating "generally mixed reviews".[12] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic gave to the album three stars out of five and opined that "O'Brien helps them articulate their ideas, giving them definition and muscle, attributes that are appealing when the songs lack distinct hooks.[14] A positive review came from Ryan Gardner writer of Absolute Punk, he stated that they "definitely take a different approach this time around, welcoming producer Brendan O’Brien to the boards, which brings a more rock and roll sound to this record."[13] He concluded the review, examining that "As Scars & Stories comes to a close, it sums up everything The Fray have been about the past seven years. While they don’t throw any curveballs or stir the pot too much, the band definitely stays true to their core, crafting yet another memorable piano pop-rock record with these stories."[13] Rusty Redden wrote a positive review for American Songwriter, praising the album for being their "most-produced and boldest album yet."[15] He also mentioned that the band "achieves a bigger sounding record as Coldplay or Switchfoot, but does so in a way that is unmistakably their own."[15] Sputnikmusic's review was also positive, saying that the album "chooses to defend the band’s empire instead of pushing towards newer and greener pastures."[7] Billboard's Gary Greff wrote that the album "pushes things perceptibly forward."[17] The A.V. Club gave a negative review, saying "Ultimately, these mid-tempo, mid-volume tunes flounder in mediocrity."[20] Jon Dolan, reviewing for Rolling Stone magazine, gave a similar review, stating "They're still pumping American-Coldplay ballads full of sky-groping choruses and symphonic rushes." He went on to pan the lyrics, saying "If it were a Lonely Island parody of an earnest rock band it'd be kind of funny. Unfortunately, the Fray are terrifyingly serious." and gave the album 2 stars out of 5.[21]

Melissa Maerz wrote a mixed review for Entertainment Weekly that the band is "too serious" and that "even producer Brendan O'Brien can't save Scars & Stories from generic TV-soundtrack mediocrity."[18]


The lead single from the album is titled "Heartbeat". It was released to radio October 8, 2011, and surfaced online via radio music ripping. Shortly after it was officially released for download on October 11, 2011.

The music video for the second single, "Run for Your Life" was released on March 11, 2012.

Track listing[edit]

1."Heartbeat"Isaac Slade/Joseph King3:41
2."The Fighter"Slade/King/David Welsh/Ben Wysocki4:20
3."Turn Me On"Slade/King/Welsh/Wysocki3:03
4."Run for Your Life"Slade/King3:59
5."The Wind"Slade/King/Welsh/Wysocki4:15
7."I Can Barely Say"Slade/King4:20
9."Here We Are"Slade/King/Welsh/Wysocki3:32
10."48 to Go"Slade/King/Welsh/Wysocki3:23
11."Rainy Zurich"Slade/King3:48
12."Be Still"Slade/King/Welsh/Wysocki2:49
Total length:44:35



Chart (2012) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[27] 18
New Zealand Albums Chart[28] 39
US Billboard 200[29] 4


  1. ^ a b "The new studio album Scars & Stories from The Fray, produced by Brendan O'Brien. Every pre-order comes with an instant download of the new single "Heartbeat"!". Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  2. ^ "Isaac Slade on the Fray's new album, working with Brendan O'Brien and opening for U2". Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  3. ^ "The Fray, Hard Rock Cafe- Boston, MA. 10.17.11". Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  4. ^ "A Chat With The Fray". Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  5. ^ "The Fray- Heartbeat". Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  6. ^ a b "The Wayman Tisdale Story and Scars & Stories: Conversations With Director Brian Schodorf and The Fray's Isaac Slade". Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Don, Jolan (February 7, 2012). "The Fray - Scars and Stories (staff review) - Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  8. ^ "In The Office: Candy, Chips and Overseas Chatter With The Fray". Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  9. ^ "October 18, 2011: The Fray Interview". Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  10. ^ "The Fighter Live - The Fray". Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  11. ^ Caulfield, Keith (15 February 2012). "Adele's '21' Hits 20th Week at No. 1, Van Halen Debuts at No. 2". Billboard. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  12. ^ a b Scars & Stories (2012): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2012-02-16.
  13. ^ a b c Gardner, Ryan (February 7, 2012). "Fray, The - Scars & Stories - Album Review -". Absolute Punk. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  14. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (February 7, 2012). "Scars & Stories - The Fray - Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  15. ^ a b c Redden, Rusty (February 7, 2012). "The Fray: Scars & Stories - American Songwriter". American Songwriter. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  16. ^ Lewis, Catherine P. (February 7, 2012). "The Fray: Scars & Stories - Music - Music Review - The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  17. ^ a b Graff, Gary (February 7, 2012). "Album Review: The Fray, 'Scars & Stories'". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  18. ^ a b Maerz, Melissa (February 7, 2012). "Scars & Stories review - The Fray Review - Music Reviews and News -". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  19. ^ Don, Jolan (February 7, 2012). "Scars Stories Album Reviews - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  20. ^,69178/
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Scars&Stories (Deluxe Version)". iTunes Stores. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  23. ^ "Scars & Stories (Walmart Exclusive)". Wal-Mart. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  24. ^ "The Fray Scars & Stories - Only at Target". Target. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  25. ^ "THE FRAY Scars & Stories (2012 Japanese 14-track CD album)". Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Adele's '21' Hits 20th Week at No. 1, Van Halen Debuts at No. 2". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. February 15, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2012.

External links[edit]