Further Seems Forever – Penny Black
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: October 23rd, 2012
This year has marked the reunion of a few great bands – Hot Water Music, The Early November, and finally, Further Seems Forever. Ironically, all of these bands are on Rise Records now, but that doesn’t hinder them whatsoever. In fact, it makes Rise a bit more credible, because they do know how to sign good bands. Regardless of the label, Further Seems Forever are back with their original lineup from debut album, 2001’s The Moon Is Down. I’ll admit, I’m not too familiar with this band, however, I bought a copy of The Moon Is Down at my local F.Y.E. store in the spring, and I fell in love with it right when I started listening to it. The record is great, and immediately after that, I heard news of Further Seems Forever’s reunion with the original lineup of that album releasing a record finally this year, so it was also serendipity that I checked them out. And even so, I don’t really think one could compare this album to any of their other records without frontman Chris Carrabba, who is also famously known for leaving the band due to pursue his side project Dashboard Confessional. It’s about time they came back, even if it’s about eleven years later, fourth album Penny Black seems to pick up right where Carrabba left off after he left the band. Don’t mistake this album as being The Moon Is Down Part II, because it’s not. It really seems to be more of a continuation of that sound, rather than just being the same album over again.
The album starts with first single “So Cold,” and this is a great song; it really starts off the album quite strongly, but I would not say this is the best song on the album. In terms of food, this would be the appetizer. The main course comes later on in the album. But this was a great choice for a first single because of how strong it is. It really says, “We’re back.” It’s a great pop-punk, old school emo, and alternative track. One thing I really like about this album is that no song exceeds four minutes in length, so ultimately, it doesn’t drag on whatsoever, nor does it seem like it’s too fast, either. Second track “Rescue Trained” continues what “So Cold” started; it’s another great track all around, but not the best track, either. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the production sounds quite strange on this track. In fact, it sounds very strange at a lot of points on this record, but it doesn’t hinder the record too much. It just sounds weird, for the lack of a better word. Aside from the production, “Rescue Trained” is still a great track. Third track “Way Down” is one of my favorite tracks on the record; the beginning of the track is great. Carrabba’s voice sounds the strongest it’s been in years, honestly. He sounds great throughout the record, and on a few tracks, he certainly shines. Overall, it’s a very catchy track, too. Following that, fourth track “King’s Canyon” make it into a one-two punch, because this track also kills it. Next track “Staring Down the Sun” is yet another punch; this track has what every Further Seems Forever track has, and by now, I’ve noticed that each song have rather quite verses, but huge choruses that are insanely catchy. To put it bluntly, there’s a formula, and each track sounds oddly similar. They’re all great tracks, and there are a few highlights. Sixth track “A System of Symmetry” is actually one of the unique tracks, and a highlight. It sounds much slower, and Carrabba’s vocals shine here, too. The track right after is the title track, so that’s worth mentioning, solely for that reason. Another highlight for me is eighth track “Rusted Machines.” If anything, the lyrics are a big reason of why I like that track a lot. The lyrics are also a big reason of why I like the album in general. My favorite track on the album is truly the last track, “Janie.” It’s an acoustically driven track, and the only of its kind on the album, which makes it extremely unique for that reason. Carrabba’s vocals are very soft and rather heartbreaking here; he’s trying to a tell a woman named Janie that summer is over, and technically, he’s right. The album was released in October, and summer was far from over. It almost feels like a tribute to summer, in a way.
I can’t express enough how fantastic this album truly is; Further Seems Forever is a band who definitely inspired a lot of modern day pop-punk/emo bands, and with this album, it’s insanely clear to see why. This isn’t a reunion where it seemed like they were forced to make this, and they’re going to break up right after. They reunited in 2010, but finally made an album after a couple of years. It holds up quite nicely, and 11 years later, it’s very overdue, but very worth it as well. If there’s one thing I had to gripe about, it is the production, but even then, it’s extremely forgivable, because it’s only bothersome in a few places. Regardless, this will most likely be considered a classic album.
I couldn't agree more with the above poster. The production does not fit the music or the soul of FSF at all. We have had a lot of fantastic music from these guys, regardless of their lineup. However, how can one justify using autotune on a track like Rescue Trained? Is Chris Carrabba T-Painin' it all of a sudden? The fact is, he doesn't need it and neither does the band! They are all excellent musicians.
Have to agree about the production. And i don't even think it's necessarily bad, but it certainly doesn't sound like the feel all 3 of their old albums had. The guitars and vocals seem off somehow but i can't put my finger on it specifically. vox are definitely drowned though.
Overall I don't hate the album, but i definitely haven't gotten into it much as a whole. glad to see i'm not the only one, but it's a bummer because i wanted to love this so bad!
I haven't listened to the album in its whole yet, but I've been playing like 2 songs of it, and I also have noticed that the production may be quite disappointing, namely with the vocals not so distinguished from the rest.. Anyway, I also thought that maybe it's just a bad copy of the single etc., do you guys own the original CDs with proper quality?
The production almost ruins this record for me. The guitar tones are just jarring, I can't even listen to it loud because of that. The mid levels of the whole mix are way too high so if you basically drop them out it's listenable. And it's not just the vocal mix that bugs me with those, it''s how they recorded it. Chris Carrabba with layered vocal tracks sucks. His whole appeal up until this has been the raw single voice with harmonies added in *occasionally*. That's basically gone on this album. Listening to Rescue Trained really bums me out because that chorus is classic FSF/Chris Carrabba and the vocals are buried in over-production.
The songs are great, it's just a shame that the final product turned out like this.
Late to the thread, but I couldn't agree more with the general sentiment here that the production is absolutely horrid, mainly on the vocals. It's a huge disappointment, because some of these tracks, like Rescue Trained, have a lot of potential.