The Fray have claimed that their upcoming third album, entitled "Scars and Stories", will boast a more "aggressive" sound than previous efforts, but evidence of that shift is only shallowly apparent on "Heartbeat", the just-released first single from their new LP (unless perhaps I'm misinterpreting what they mean by "aggressive"?).

Though it perhaps boasts a tad more "edge" than their previous output, the track is more or less in the same ballpark as their previous big hits, "You Found Me" from their 2009 self-titled effort and "How to Save a Life" and "Over My Head (Cable Car)". Soaring, emotive vocals by lead singer Isaac Slade? Check. Nondescript lyrics that could apply to almost anyone, anywhere? Check. Anthemic guitar riffs designed for large stadium crowds? Check.

Nevertheless, perhaps the rest of the album will represent a more dramatic shift, with this first single simply meant to woo in all of the band's existing fans. It's certainly possible, particularly given that they chose to bring in new producer Brendan O'Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) this time around. Updating their sound might actually be needed at this point in the band's career path, particularly given the considerable drop in sales between their first and second LPs (while 2005's "How To Save a Life" went double-platinum, 2009's "The Fray" was "only" certified Gold). Anyway, I guess we'll see when "Scars and Stories" drops on February 7, 2012.

You can listen to "Heartbeat" below: