The Fray, Helios
Expected Release: Feb. 25
The Fray is back with its fourth album Helios, expected to release next week, and it seems that the band will continue to experiment with more forceful rock on this newest project. In contrast to its defining singles “How to Save a Life” and “Over My Head,” The Fray’s recent releases “Love Don’t Die” and “Hurricane” sound more aggressive in tone, departing from its original piano-driven style. The group has traditionally produced music with more personal, serious undertones, but in a recent interview with HuffPostLive, the band described Helios as “happier” than its previous album Scars & Stories. The Fray hasn’t experienced the same commercial success as in prior years, so Helios may mark the transition point for the band members as they enter their 12th year as a group.
Pharrell Williams, G I R L
Expected Release: Mar. 3
He sang alongside masked robots, contributed to the guiltiest pleasure song of last summer, and is now ready to fly solo once again. Pharrell Williams will be releasing his second album G I R L in early March, which will feature his single “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. Although he hasn’t released an album since 2003, Pharrell was at the forefront of major hit singles in 2013 with a prolific series of releases that included “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines.” Pharrell’s debut album In My Mind was heavy on rap tracks and collaborations, so perhaps G I R L will highlight some more of his own soul-funk vibes as seen on “Happy.” But then again, with a singer-producer like Pharrell Williams, none one’s ever quite sure what they ought to expect.
Aloe Blacc, Lift Your Spirit
Expected Release: Mar. 11
Soul and hip-hop artist Aloe Blacc’s next album Lift Your Spirit is expected to release on Mar. 11, and he has given us a good sense of what we can expect already with singles such as “The Man” and “Ticking Bomb.” “The Man” was recently featured in a Beats commercial. The Orange County singer first made it onto major airwaves in 2010 with his singe “I Need A Dollar,” which went on to be the intro music for HBO’s How to Make It in America. Blacc managed to break the surface of mainstream genres without immersing himself in it completely, instead allowing his soulful voice to serve as the focal point of his releases. If we’ve learned anything from his country-esque vocals on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” it’s that Blacc has the ability to layer sounds beautifully in the most unexpected ways.