Since 2005’s How to Save a Life, the Denver-based quartet has delivered unflinchingly emotional sentimentality through distinct piano-driven rock. While Helios still delivers ample tenderness and vulnerability, it’s more forceful than any of The Fray’s previous studio albums. Lead singer Isaac Slade alternates between an ethereal falsetto and a delicate rasp—whether it’s on punchy, Killers-style rockers or tunes built on gauzy, reverb-soaked synths and percussion. The result is an album that feels both instantly familiar (like the sweepingly emotive “Break Your Plans”) and ornate (like the graceful “Shadow and a Dancer”).

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