Okay, let’s get this out of the way. No review of US emo-rockers Further Seems Forever can pass by without a mention of Chris Carrabba, their original lead singer who left the band, started an acoustic sideline called the Dashboard Confessional, and ended up with seven-figure album sales and hysterical adulation from teenage girls America-over.
Perhaps it was fortunate for the remaining members of Further Seems Forever that they hadn’t “made it” when Carraba chose to jump ship. After all, many bands struggle to keep their shape after the fans’ siren disappears (Black Sabbath and Sepultura being cases in point). As it is, they recruited whipper-snapper vocalist Jason Gleason and, judging by the sounds emanating from How To Start A Fire (finally getting a proper release in the UK), have managed to consign Carraba to a box marked “quickly forgotten”.
Further Seems Forever appear to have two principal modus operandi. The louder mode is exemplified by songs such as the title track, The Sound and Against My Better Judgement. Here, angular guitars, jagged rhythms and Gleason’s implausibly pure singing voice combine to create well-crafted songs with subtly memorable choruses. And, although these songs definitely rock, they are never overbearingly aggressive and imply that commercial crossover is not an ambition harboured by Mr Carraba alone.
This thesis is lent more weight by Further Seem Forever’s “other”, softer side. A Blank Page Empire is a tender confession of moral struggle (“Awake in this cold cell / I am my only devil”) with Gleason singing his little heart out, while I Am is a near-beautiful, semi-acoustic number that builds to an electric climax and talks of divine love for humanity (“Please tell me when you’re through / Cause I may not be through with you”).
Elsewhere, On Legendary, Insincerity As An Artform and Aurora Borealis continue the theme, with nice guitar touches, unorthodox minor key changes and choruses that wouldn’t be out of place on commercial rock radio.
Occasionally the band over-elaborate with the rhythms and guitar patterns, and every now and again a little more rage would not go amiss. However, this could well appeal to those with a bit of edge to their tastes, who appreciate rock without too many decibels, especially when delivered with heartfelt, sung vocals and thoughtful lyrics.
At 35 minutes in length, How To Start A Fire is short but surprisingly sweet. Dashboard who?