Sounds like … fans of Sunny Day Real Estate, Thursday, Fugazi, and
Taking Back Sunday will fall in love with Further Seems Forever's
polished perpetuation of the emo genreAt a Glance … though no longer fronted by Chris Carrabba, FSF
presses on with even more melodic bedlam and impassioned vocals
than those found on their 2001 debut
When Further Seems Forever first unveiled their highly celebrated The Moon Is Down release, the public's preliminary focal point was on the band's behind the scenes relations as opposed to their emotionally charged pedigree and rhythmic assault. All eyes were on lead singer Chris Carrabba.
Just before the disc was released, Carrabba pulled out of the band he helped form in order to pursue outside interests. Though they were virtually unknown back then, Carrabba quickly took on
the equally heartfelt Dashboard Confessional project, earning national attention through previously unlikely MTV exposure and prominent concert billings. Meanwhile, his former band mates trudged on the road with a new singer named Jason Gleason, known for a slightly more mature, less whiny vocal demeanor than his predecessor.
Though Further Seems Forever hasn't risen to the prominence level of their former front man, they've been far from overlooked on the mainstream touring front, scoring spots with Something Corporate and the Get Up Kids, just to name a few. They also
landed songs on some coveted compilations such as Weezer Tribute (covering "Say It Ain't So") and Pop Goes Punk (the platform for
their parody of N'Sync's "Bye, Bye, Bye").
Though they still played Christian festivals and found their way onto spiritually centered radio stations, it was apparent that, like Carrabba and his new company, Further Seems Forever was also striving for crossover status. As it stands right now, members maintain the following philosophy when it comes to the interplay of their faith with the music: "Well, everyone in FSF is a
Christian, but we don't call ourselves a Christian band," they
posted on their official website. "We do this because we love
it. It is not a ministry for us. Our faith is our relationship
with God on an individual level, and if we feel led to share that
we will … we simply love to play music and love God."
Bearing those comments in mind, don't expect to find any blatant examples of the band's spiritual convictions on their How to Start a Fire. But look to their lyrical evasiveness as a platform that may eventually curb listener conversations in that direction. Certainly references to
grace, battling pride, and living with integrity are reputable
causes to cover within their recently recorded repertoire. Like
fellow modern rockers Chevelle and The Juliana Theory, Further
Seems Forever members need not justify their individual faith
walks. Instead, they let their song structuring and artistic
liberty do the talking.
How to Start a Fire is a fitting follow-up that presents the band in a tighter, more
cohesive environment. Such qualities are initially displayed
throughout the title cut. "The Sound" also funnels through a
sequence of alerting guitar crackles and a singing style filled
with urgent distress, while a melodic focus takes center
spotlight. Other menacing anthems include the pensive "Against My
Better Judgment" and the band's thoroughly soul-searched stance
on egotism called "Pride War."
Though first hinted at on the last album, Further Seems Forever also implements sonic solidarity in several less abrasive settings on How to Start a Fire, starting with the delicate acoustic set up of "Oh Legendary" and the alternative blues shuffle, "A Blank Page Empire." Then there's "I Am," known for its inferred storyline that resounds with a questioning quality of a relationship on the rocks, along the lines of The Juliana
Theory's "For Evangeline." Jason's singing is especially
transfixing on lines like "I am one step closer for you / And
please tell me when you're through / Cause I may not be through
with you / Your loss to sustain / And I will remain." Such gut-
wrenching groans are later suppressed through the placid
distortion of "Instrumental" (misleadingly titled since it
actually has vocals), bringing the album to a conclusion on a
As appealing as How to Start a Fire is, like The Moon Is Down, it runs just over a skimpy 35 minutes, bordering in between EP and
the shorter side of full-length status. My only words of wisdom
to new fans of the emo genre (especially of bands from the
Christian community) are to instead consider trying out Denison
Marrs's Then Is the New Now or The Juliana Theory's Emotion is
Dead. You'll get much more for your money. That detracting
quality isn't enough to disjoint the project's overall unity and
the band's performance precision, nor should it hinder close
followers in their decision to pick up the disc. In fact, if the
band continues developing at this pace, I'm quite certain many
more listeners will be converted to fervent fans, perhaps even
affronting Further Seems Forever with a longevity status that
many in their genre lack.