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  How to Start a Fire
Artist: Further Seems Forever
Label: Tooth & Nail
Time: 36:50, 10 tracks

It’s been nearly two years since the Further Seems Forever released its first album, The Moon is Down. Since then, they’ve undergone a few changes, mainly the departure of their vocalist and lyricist, Chris Carrabba, who moved on to form Dashboard Confessional. Jason Gleason (formerly of the hardcore band Affinity) replaced Carrabba as the vocalist and lyricist for the band.

As How to Start a Fire proves, this is a change for the better. While The Moon is Down wasn’t bad, every song on the new CD shows more variety, stretching from the fierce and upbeat “Against My Better Judgment” to the slow and almost anguished closing track “Aurora Borealis (in long form).” Furthermore, Gleason’s voice is an improvement over Carrabba’s; his is not as nasal, a bit more melodic, and still able to bring strength and passion with a hint of Zao-like vocals.

The opening track “How to Start a Fire” begins with the sound of a match being struck, then burning; the track otherwise is strong, as is much of the rest of the album. “A Blank Page Empire” and “The Deep” are a bit slower, but this only gives the album more variety. The only track that seems out of place is #7, “On Legendary,” where Gleason’s vocals are a bit higher and the music is a too soft.

Regardless, the songs in this album are diverse, but not so much as to displace FSF’s niche in the emo rock genre. Many of the songs are about relationships and passion, and FSF delivers this quite well. The strong point is not only Gleason’s vocals, but the instrumental parts as well. It is clear that the guitars, bass, and drums have improved while still retaining the sound of The Moon is Down.

Christian listeners may find How to Start a Fire’s lyrics strange. Indeed, any listener might have a hard time deciphering what the lyrics mean. While a few may be clear, others are metaphorical, a stream of consciousness from Gleason’s head. Perhaps there is no distinct or clear message; FSF is not a Christian band, although every member is a Christian, and the focus on regular emo-type relationships has lessened, or at least become more vague.

One interesting point is a poem in the album, written among the lyrics. Presumably, it’s by the bassist Chad Neptune’s sister, Alexis Neptune.

In some it is never lit
Straw and cinders smoking forever as they float through ghost-life…
In others it cattle herds them to destruction
Relentless in hunger…

How to start a fire?
Are you sure you want to know?

The main weak point is that How to Start a Fire is less than forty minutes long. The autobiography on the Tooth & Nail site states the band focuses strongly on “quality not quantity,” still, some buyers will find the album a bit short for $16. Regardless, the album is very strongly worth buying, especially for those into the emo rock genre of music who thought The Moon is Down was good.

David Song, 8/27/03

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