We are currently in the midst of a three-part journey indie alt-rockers Future of Forestry are undertaking called Travel, a set of three EPs to be released a few months apart from each other. The first chapter has come and gone, and we're now on the second installment, aptly titled Travel II. Travel I was quite an ambitious effort from Eric Owyoung and friends, but arguably fell a bit flat in the end. So how does the sequel fare? Thankfully, Travel II is a better EP than its predecessor; where there were faults, Travel II has filled up the holes nicely.
The first issue not present here is the sheer pretentious epic-factor Travel I had. There are no more overly long track times, a problem last time that plagued two tracks at nearly six minutes apiece. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if it was an album, but with an EP, the concept doesn't work nearly as well. In fairness, though, "Slow Your Breath Down" and "Someday" are both clocking in around five minutes here, but because of the makeup of the songs themselves, it works to its advantage instead of being a stumbling block to the song. It's fine to take more time on a couple tracks to get a more complete effect, and these tracks here achieve that well, unlike the overall tiresome "Colors In Array" and "Halleluiah" on Travel I.
With no track time problems here, what about the songs themselves? As stated, it's an overall better collection this time around. There are more songs here that hold one's interest longer; one reason this could be is the fact that more songs are upbeat rather than mainly ballads. "Hills Of Indigo Blue" opens things up, and while the overall composition of the track is somewhat similar to "Traveler's Song" on Travel, it's distinctive enough to stand on its own. "Holiday" has a catchy guitar riff throughout, while "So Close So Far" majors on a pounding handclap-and-drum scheme, with a little bit of Radiohead-eque guitar thrown in for good measure. "Slow Your Breath Down" is along the same lines as the first EP with its dreamy composition, but again, it works much better, partly because there aren't any other songs like it on the EP, unlike Travel I where almost every track sounded pretty much similar. "Someday" is a nice epic closer, and it leaves me anxious and contemplative, just like a closer should.
Overall, Travel II is a much better EP than Travel I in almost every aspect. FOF hit all the right notes this time around, and with 2009 being the "Year of the EP" with so many being released, Travel II is among the few of them that really stand out, and not just as an EP, but as a cohesive project altogether. If Future Of Forestry keeps improving this concept even more, next year's Travel III could be a masterpiece-to-come. To those who were disappointed by Travel I: prepare to be surprised.- Review date: 10/3/09, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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