Dallas Taylor. Josh Scogin. Chris Carrabba. What do these names have in common? They are all legendary frontmen whose names will forever be synonymous with the bands they once fronted. Although Underoath (Taylor) and Norma Jean (Scogin) have survived quite capably without the voices that once defined their music, the same cannot be said with the formerly-Carrabba-fronted Further Seems Forever. Although they remained well respected within the Christian community as a resilient and forward-thinking band well after Chris Carrabba's departure, FSF never quite escaped the shadow of their first vocalist and The Moon Is Down, the only album they recorded together.
Those unfamiliar with this band have to ask: what is the big deal about The Moon Is Down? For that matter, what's the big deal about Chris Carrabba? Well, if you ask hardcore FSF fans, they wouldn't hesitate to tell you that The Moon Is Down is one the best emo albums ever made - an outstanding album that will go down as this band's single most defining work. Carrabba, meanwhile, has recently been hailed as one of the genre's eternal heroes - a voice that FSF has been hard-pressed to replace in the wake of his departure. That being said, are there any truths to these laudable descriptions? Well, not exactly…
Upon first listen, The Moon Is Down makes a rather unremarkable impression on the listener. It is melodic, yet hardly gripping. Stately, yet never quite powerful enough to grab your attention from start to finish. The Moon Is Down comes across as a pleasant, yet hardly engaging listen that passes by quickly without much of a fuss. It's not a boring record by any means, yet nothing about it will stick with the listener after the first couple of listens. The highlights on this album include the soaring title track, "The Bradley," "Snowbirds and Townies" and the hook-laden "Wearing Thin." The other tracks are merely passable emo anthems laden with superfluous sentimentality and suffering from the melodic aimlessness that occasionally characterizes FSF's songwriting.
As the album that introduced this band to its core audience, The Moon Is Down fulfills its purpose. The band's distinctive sound is already there; it's just that the songwriting isn't. There's nothing on this album that matches the accessibility of "The Sound," the majesty of "Light Up Ahead" or the sheer catchiness of "Hide Nothing." It's a formula they would improve on in later albums, but The Moon Is Down remains nothing more than a satisfactory listen. Without a doubt, this is one of the most over-rated debuts in alternative Christian music.- Review date: 9/22/06 by Sherwin Frias
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