Further Seems Forever has had quite the rough go of it. Losing their original singer Chris Carrabba to the greener pastures of Dashboard Confessional after their debut album had been recorded but not yet released really put a big wrench in their plans of being a band. So even though new singer Jason has been in the band for roughly 2 years now, he still gets called "the new guy." And it can't be easy on him - the band has been road dogs these past 2 years, playing hundreds of shows a year. This guy has to go up night after night and basically do karaoke for 45 minutes, singing songs that someone else wrote. "How To Start A Fire" is the first time Jason has been allowed to put pen to paper, and while I'm sure he's mighty proud of his work, he's going to have a lot of people to answer to.
Further Seems Forever's debut album is seemingly in permanent constant rotation in my stereo. I view that album as capturing lightning in a bottle - it was 5 guys who had been kicking around in the Florida music scene for some time, and when they all got together wrote some incredibly powerful, highly emotional, and fairly original music. Then they lose their singer, as well as the less-known loss of one of their guitarists as well as their other guitarist deciding not to tour anymore, forcing the band to hire a touring guitarist [who strangely is in all the promotional material for this release but who's actual name is nowhere to be seen]. This leaves the band with not only a new personality behind the mic, but also providing the guitar sounds that this band is so known for delivering.
This is a lot of pressure for a second album.
So how did the band do? Not bad. Not amazing, not great, but not bad. "How To Start A Fire" is going to be this band's breakthrough album, I'll bet, but I know they can do better and I can't wait to hear it. Tracks like the title track as well as "Pride War" conjur up images of the first album, with relentless drums matched up against arpeggiated guitar lines flying over each other. "The Deep" really showcases Jason's much wider vocal range than Chris ever had, allowing him to, more or less wail the word "excuses" over and over again. It's some powerful stuff.
The album is spotty, though. The first single, "The Sound," just sounds too sterile; it's like a band influenced by Further Seems Forever wrote the song, not the band themselves. This feeling of deja vu tends to creep up throughout the album; you know you've heard this stuff before by the same band, and yet it doesn't sound nearly as good this time.
Jason really is a better fit for this band vocally than Chris, as his powerful throat soars over the instruments in tracks like "On Legendary." I just feel like it's all a bit forced from the band overall. I know the point of being in a band for a lot of people is to achieve some sort of success, but most artists try to keep some sort of artistic merit while going down this journey of accomplishment. I'm not calling the band sellouts, as they still seem to be true to what they do, but you can't deny that the raw passion on "The Moon is Down" really doesn't show up here except for a few spots on this CD.
Basically I'm still pretty torn on this CD. It's been getting a lot of play from me recently, and I like it more and more with each listen, but something still is rubbing me the wrong way about it. I'll recommend this to fans of the band, but if you've never heard this band before now, check out "The Moon Is Down" first so you can see where the band has come from before you see where the band is going.
Let's just hope they can recapture that lightning for the next time around.
Stream the whole CD here.