How to Start a Fire

How to Start a Fire is the second album by the Pompano Beach, Florida rock band Further Seems Forever, released in 2003 by Tooth & Nail Records. It was the band's only album with vocalist Jason Gleason, who had replaced original singer Chris Carrabba when the latter left the band to focus on his new project Dashboard Confessional. Gleason would leave the band the following year due to interpersonal tensions and be replaced by former Sense Field singer Jon Bunch. How to Start a Fire was also the band's first album with guitarist Derick Cordoba, replacing original guitarist Nick Dominguez.

How to Start a Fire
Further Seems Forever - How to Start a Fire cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 11, 2003
RecordedMid-to-late 2002
StudioWisner Productions
GenreEmo, indie rock
Length36:50
LabelTooth & Nail
ProducerJames Paul Wisner, Further Seems Forever
Further Seems Forever chronology
The Moon Is Down
(2001)
How to Start a Fire
(2003)
Hide Nothing
(2004)

Background and productionEdit

Frontman Chris Carrabba left Further Seems Forever as his side project Dashboard Confessional was becoming popular. He returned briefly to record the group's debut album The Moon Is Down (2001), but left before its eventual release. Following this, the group enlisted former Affinity vocalist Jason Gleason as their frontman.[1] His earliest recorded performances appeared on the Rock Music: A Tribute to Weezer (2001) and Punk Goes Pop (2001) compilations. Guitarist Nick Dominguez was replaced by Derick Cordoba.[2]

How to Start a Fire was recorded at Wisner Productions and produced by James Paul Wisner and Further Seems Forever; Wisner handled recording, engineering and mixing.[3] Halfway through recording, the band toured as part of the Warped Tour in mid-2002, and later embarked on an east coast and midwestern US tour with Breaking Pangaea. After returning home, they spent another month recording.[4] Alan Douches mastered the tracks at West West Side Mastering.[3]

CompositionEdit

Musically, the sound of How to Start a Fire has been described as emo[5][6][7] and indie rock,[8] drawing comparisons to the Juliana Theory, Taking Back Sunday,[5] Jimmy Eat World[8] and early Manic Street Preachers.[9] The band operated in two modes for the album: louder tracks with angular guitar lines and harsh rhythm parts with catchy chorus sections, as displayed in the title-track and "The Sound"; and the softer mode, as shown in "A Blank Page Empire" and "I Am".[10] It introduces string and piano instrumentation into the group's sound and showcases Gleason's vocal style, which was similar to Carrabba's albeit grainer.[11][6] The lyrics focused on poetic imagery to convey the tone;[6] Gleason offered a darker perspective, in comparison to Carabba, which was mainly pessimistic with overtones of hope.[12] Wisner provided keyboard and additional guitar parts to the recordings.[3]

The opening track "How to Start a Fire" starts with the sound of a struck match,[13] shifting into a hardcore punk-indebted song.[14] "The Sound" bounces between post-hardcore verse sections and harmony-infused chorus sections in the vein of Cheap Trick.[5] "A Blank Page Empire" is an alternative blues shuffle track[15] about dealing with the loss of a loved one,[12] and was compared to The Moon Is Down track "Snowbirds and Townies".[16] "I Am" is about questioning the viability of a strained relationship.[15] It starts off partially acoustic before building to an electric ending,[10] in the vein of "For Evangeline" by the Juliana Theory[15] and The Moon Is Down number "Monachett".[16] "Pride War" tackles the theme of egotism.[15] "On Legendary" opens with an acoustic guitar intro.[15] "Insincerity as an Artform" features the use of guitar harmonics.[16] "The Deep" showcased Gleason's wider vocal abilities.[12] The closing track "Aurora Borealis (In Long Form)" incorporates a string section alongside the loud guitars.[16] Over the course of the near-five minute song, Gleason's voice changes from singing to screaming and back again.[12]

ReleaseEdit

In October and November 2002, the band went on tour across the US alongside New Found Glory, Something Corporate and Finch.[17] How to Start a Fire was released through Tooth & Nail Records on February 11, 2003.[18] The music video for "The Sound" was posted on MP4.com on March 10.[19] How to Start a Fire was released in the UK on October 13.[10] Gleason left the band in early 2004, citing that they "spent too much time" together "packed in a box".[20] Four of the album's tracks – "Pride War", "Against My Better Judgement", the title-track and "The Sound" – later appeared on the group's compilation album Hope This Finds You Well (2006).[21]

In 2016, the group went on tour playing How to Start a Fire with Gleason.[20]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [5]
Christianity TodayFavorable[15]
Cross Rhythms          [16]
Exclaim!Favorable[11]
Jesus Freak Hideout     [6]
musicOMHFavorable[10]
Post-Bulletin3.5/5[12]
Punknews.org     [22]
The PitchUnfavorable[23]
Rolling Stone     [24]

How to Start a Fire would go on to sell over 100,000 by 2013.[20] Exclaim! ranked it at number six on their Best Punk Album of the year list.[25] Christianity Today included the album at number 11 on their best Christian albums of the year list.[26] Jesus Freak Hideout ranked it at number 18 on their list of the top 100 Tooth & Nail releases.[27]

Cross Rhythms writer Tony Cummings said due to the "smouldering vocals" from Gleason, the "exceptional light-and-shade dynamics" from the group, combined with the "inventive arrangements", it stood as "every bit the equal" to The Moon Is Down.[16] Christianity Today's Andy Argyrakis said it was "a fitting follow-up that presents the band in a tighter, more cohesive environment."[15] AllMusic reviewer Johnny Loftus said Gleason aided the band in making "a focused and fiery sophomore effort" with "a greater understanding of formula."[5] Jesus Freak Hideout staff member Sherwin Frias said Gleason carried "the same emotional style as his forebear", which allowed the group "to pick up right where it left off."[6] The record "has proven itself strong enough to stand apart from its predecessor's imposing shadow."[6] Post-Bulletin found Gleason's "more mature voice ... a much better fit for the band's music than Carrabba's whiny squeak."[12] With the album, the group "took a risk and the result is 10 great songs" with them being "finally poised to make a name with their music, not with their past."[12] Rolling Stone reviewer Kristin Roth said it "burns with incendiary power-pop guitar riffs and smolders with intensely emotive vocals", with Gleason incorporating "both a harder edge and a softer underbelly to the band's sound".[24]

musicOMH contributor Vik Bansal complimented the group's "louder" mode, "although these songs definitely rock, they are never overbearingly aggressive".[10] The group infrequently "over-elaborate with the rhythms and guitar patterns, and every now and again a little more rage would not go amiss."[10] Stuart Green of Exclaim! said that while Gleason lacked Carrabba's lyricism, "his contribution to this disc cannot be ignored. His torment and lovelorn angst is sincere and affecting."[11] He found the tracks "a little less complex" than those on The Moon Is Down, "although no less interesting."[11] In a review for Punknews.org, staff member Scott Heisel asked the question "So how did the band do?" before answering himself with: "Not bad. Not amazing, not great, but not bad."[22] He elaborated that it was "spotty" with a "feeling of deja vu tends to creep up throughout the album".[22] Arizona Daily Wildcat writer Adam Pugh said the addition of Gleason "changed the whole concept of what the band was" negatively, as they lacked "the intensity of the first album and just sticks with mediocre lyrics and an endless barrage of cry-alongs."[28] The Pitch's Geoff Harkness criticized the band for "rely[ing] on paint-by-numbers chord progressions" with "remedial lyrics ... that are scarred from a terminal case of hackney."[23] He said the group "might be able to overcome the loss of its original singer, but a second record that continues Fire's trite tradition might as well be titled How to Extinguish a Career."[23]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Further Seems Forever.[3]

  1. "How to Start a Fire" – 2:51
  2. "The Sound" – 3:41
  3. "A Blank Page Empire" – 4:09
  4. "Against My Better Judgement" – 3:41
  5. "I Am" – 3:24
  6. "Pride War" – 3:04
  7. "On Legendary" – 3:40
  8. "Insincerity as an Artform" – 3:44
  9. "The Deep" – 3:46
  10. "Aurora Borealis (In Long Form)" – 4:50

PersonnelEdit

Personnel per booklet.[3]

ReferencesEdit

Citations

  1. ^ "Furthering the Fire". Crosswalk. July 2, 2003. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  2. ^ MacNeil, Jason. "Further Seems Forever | Biography & History". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 6, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e How to Start a Fire (booklet). Further Seems Forever. Tooth & Nail Records. 2003. TND39418.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Heisel, Scott (August 1, 2002). "Interviews: Further Seems Forever". Punknews.org. Archived from the original on July 19, 2020. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Loftus, Johnny. "How to Start a Fire - Further Seems Forever". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 6, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Frias, Sherwin (February 4, 2006). "Further Seems Forever, "How To Start A Fire" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  7. ^ Martinez, Carmelo (February 6, 2003). "CD Review". Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Sciarretto 2003, p. 7
  9. ^ Roth, Kaj (February 11, 2003). "Further Seems Forever - How to start a fire". Melodic. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Bansal, Vik (October 13, 2003). "Further Seems Forever – How To Start A Fire". musicOMH. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d Green, Stuart (January 1, 2006). "Further Seems Forever How to Start a Fire". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Further Seems Forever doesn't miss a beat with new vocalist". Post-Bulletin. March 4, 2003. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Song, David (August 27, 2003). "Further Seems Forever - a Review". The Phantom Tollbooth. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  14. ^ Stapleton, Dan (February 17, 2003). "Further Seems Forever How to Start a Fire". Ink 19. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Argyrakis, Andy. "How to Start a Fire - Further Seems Forever - Music". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on March 15, 2003. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Cummings, Tony (March 1, 2005). "Review: How To Start A Fire - Further Seems Forever". Cross Rhythms. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  17. ^ Heisel, Scott (August 13, 2002). "New Found Glory/Something Corporate/Finch/Further Seems Forever tour". Punknews.org. Archived from the original on February 12, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  18. ^ Wippsson, Johan (January 28, 2003). "Further Seems Forever Out Feb.11th". Melodic. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  19. ^ Wippsson, Johan (March 10, 2003). "Further Seems Forever On The Us Chart". Melodic. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Duarte, Barbara Corbellini (March 10, 2016). "Further Seems Forever headlining For the Love Music Festival". The Morning Call. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  21. ^ Brandon J. (August 20, 2006). "Further Seems Forever - Hope This Finds You Well". Indie Vision Music. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  22. ^ a b c Heisel, Scott (February 14, 2003). "Further Seems Forever - How To Start A Fire". Punknews.org. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c Harkness, Geoff (April 17, 2003). "Further Seems Forever". The Pitch. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Roth, Kristin (February 11, 2003). "Further Seems Forever: How To Start A Fire : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 27, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  25. ^ "Best Punk Album Year in Review 2003". Exclaim!. 2003. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  26. ^ "The Best Christian Albums of 2003". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on January 17, 2004. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  27. ^ Weaver, Michael (2018). "Top 100 Tooth & Nail Records Albums of All Time". Jesus Freak Hideout. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  28. ^ Pugh, Adam (February 20, 2003). "CD Reviews". Arizona Daily Wildcat. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 19, 2020.

Sources

  • Sciarretto, Amy (February 3, 2003). "Reviews". CMJ New Music Report. Vol. 74 no. 799. CMJ Network, Inc. ISSN 0890-0795. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.