Album Review :
Further Seems Forever - Hope This Finds You Well

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Artist: Further Seems Forever
Album: Hope This Finds You Well
Label: Tooth & Nail Records

1. The Moon Is Down
2. Pride War
3. Hide Nothing
4. Snowbirds And Townies
5. Light Up Ahead
6. Against My Better Judgment
7. The Bradley
8. New Year’s Project
9. How To Start A Fire
10. Someone You Know
11. The Sound
12. Wearing Thin
13. Bleed
14. Pictures of Shorelines
15. For All We Know
16. Vengeance Factor (feat. Chris Carrabba)
17. There, Now I’ve Said It (feat. Jason Gleason)
18. Say It Ain’t So (feat. Chris Carrabba)
19. Light Up Ahead (Acoustic) (feat. Jon Bunch)
20. Bye Bye Bye (feat. Jason Gleason)
21. Justice Prevails (feat. Chris Carrabba)

Back in 1999, Florida bands Further Seems Forever and Recess Theory released a split EP together, aptly titled From the 27th State. Further Seems Forever had formed from many members of the Christian melodic hardcore band Strongarm, after that band broke up. Strongarm was signed to Tooth & Nail in the mid-’90s, so when this new band formed, they followed general contract obligations and did the same. In early 2001, The Moon Is Down was released and brought Further Seems Forever considerable success for it only being the beginning of the popularization of emo. Then to the horror of fans everywhere, singer Chris Carrabba announced his departure from the band. He would soon go on to form Dashboard Confessional, a band which would eventually surpass FSF in popularity. Next came a man named Jason Gleason. He took over vocals for Further Seems Forever and together they released How to Start a Fire in early 2003. After filming a video for “The Sound” and doing plenty of touring, things seemed to be working out for the band. Then, again to the horror of fans everywhere, Gleason announced that he was quitting in the middle of a tour, and mysteriously disappeared, losing all contact with the rest of the band. Later he would resurface with a new band by the name of ActionReaction, containing former members of Tooth & Nail labelmates, Element 101. Things looked bad, and pretty much everyone thought that Further Seems Forever could not make it after losing their second vocalist. However, they decided to continue with the addition of former Sense Field frontman, Jon Bunch, to the horror of fans everywhere. They released Hide Nothing in late 2004. Many criticized Bunch, saying he did not fit their style at all, and FSF saw an incredible cut from their original fan base. Many others heard this new record and became fans for the first time, claiming that the previous singers were too whiny (A.K.A. too emo), but Bunch had turned them into a respectable, listenable rock band. Either way, about a year later Further Seems Forever decided it was time for the band as a whole to end. Tooth & Nail Records has made a very nice habit of putting out a greatest hits album for their better artists when they break up, and Further Seems Forever is one of those artists.

Hope This Finds You Well starts off with “The Moon Is Down,” a song from the Carrabba era that gets stuck in my head every time I listen to this album. Moving right along through FSF history into the Gleason era is “Pride War.” It took me until about the third time playing this disc to not cringe at the beginning of the next song, “Hide Nothing,” because Bunch’s voice was such a drastic clash to Gleason’s and Carrabba’s. However, that is not to say that it’s a bad song. It’s actually quite good. I just had a little trouble at first getting past the rough transition. “Snowbirds and Townies” is another Carrabba track, and one of my all time favorite Further Seems Forever songs about missing a girl who has been away for awhile [not that I could relate to this or anything]. Jumping right back into Jon Bunch, next up is the single from Hide Nothing, “Light Up Ahead,” a song offering hope in God during dark times. “Against My Better Judgment” brings Jason Gleason back into the picture to sing about how “every failure’s just as sweet, as the last” and everyone is really just looking for an excuse to fall away due to our sin nature. Another of my favorites, “New Year’s Project,” features Chris Carrabba singing one of the most powerful choruses of any FSF song: “I’m waiting to give you whatever the world may bring. I’d give you my life, cause I don’t own anything. Seems like the bottom (bottle) was all that I had, until now. I’d give you my life, if you’d give me yours somehow.” The album of course explores through singles and semi-singles such as “Someone You Know” (Bunch) and another of my favorites, “The Sound” (Gleason). When “Wearing Thin” starts out, I always expect to hear Jon Bunch singing, but it’s actually Chris Carrabba, which shows that this was indeed the same band all the way through and the only thing making them sound so different is not a change in style but a change in vocalists. “Bleed” is another fine display of Bunch’s voice, and Carrabba takes me back to the days when punk and emo were only just splitting with “Pictures of Shorelines.” This song is also the where the title to this record can be found, although the complete line is “I hope this letter finds you well.” Closing the greatest hits part of this album is “For All We Know,” a very soft acoustic and piano song with even a little bit of strings, one of my favorites with Jon Bunch.

Now we enter the “rarities” section, something no greatest hits album is complete without. “Vengeance Factor” is a fast paced song with Carrabba, and it’s really good, so I’m not sure why it didn’t make it on The Moon Is Down. “There, Now I’ve Said It” originally appeared on a Tooth & Nail Tour sampler back when Gleason was in the band, and actually finds him doing a little screaming at the beginning and end of the track, which makes me wonder where this band would have gone if he had remained with them. “Say It Ain’t So,” as you may or may not have guessed, is a Weezer cover with Chris on the mic, which was first on a Weezer tribute album back in 2000. Interestingly, Dashboard Confessional also appeared on this album performing the song “Jamie.” When Hide Nothing was released, its first pressing included an acoustic EP, and from that the song “Light Up Ahead” has made it onto Hope This Finds You Well, and I actually like it more than the regular version of the song. Fearless Records’ Punk Goes Pop featured Gleason era FSF covering Nsync’s “Bye Bye Bye.” Sounds fun, but I could only listen to this song about a quarter of the times I listened to Hope This Finds You Well. Perhaps it could have been better if they added their style to it, but it still sounds exactly like a boy band with a little crunch to the guitars. “Justice Prevails” ends the album nicely, and is a little harder than I would have expected from Further Seems Forever. It was originally on the split EP.

Tooth & Nail did a great job compiling this farewell to Further Seems Forever. It has a good selection of songs from each album, showcasing the amazingly passionate melodies that Further has come to be known for. Unlike a number of other greatest hits albums, this is one that I will be listening to for a while. It has given me a full range of appreciation for each of the three singers, and it’s got a pretty cool cover design too.

R.I.P. Further Seems Forever (1999-2006).

10/10