Review Summary: While not an improvement, Travel III does show progression for the band and is a solid ending to the Travel series.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Following up Travel II was going to be no small task. Quite frankly, you can't expect them to top it. They did not accomplish that, but it doesn’t mean that the album is poor. Not at all actually. Travel III, while not necessarily an improvement, does show considerable progression for Future of Forestry. It, like the other EP’s, shares similar qualities to its predecessors while exploring new elements that, again, work very well. Generally, Travel III combines the sounds of the previous Travel EP’s, while of course adding new ideas to the mix. What results at many times is a richer, fuller sound that proves the group has matured as musicians during the course of these EP’s.
At many times Travel III gives off vibes that really can only be described as the combination of all of FOF’s previous efforts. The perfect example of this is “Working To Be Loved.” The verses’ acoustic foundations sound like they would have fit right in with tracks like “Set Your Sails,” but the chorus smoothly transitions to higher ranges and a grand strings arrangement much more like Travel I. Although most tracks do lean towards the indie flavor put off by Travel II, it’s good to hear some of Travel I and Twilight peeking through.
But of course, this is not only a synthesis of earlier work- what true progression would there be in that? Several new elements are added to Travel III, one of the most noticeable being the new aggression presented in several of the tracks, most noticeably “Protection” and “Bold And Underlined.” “Protection” features a surprisingly explosive chorus and riff, and “Bold And Underlined” is just simply much more riff driven than any other song FOF has previously written. It’s a huge contrast in comparison to, say, the shimmering guitars of “Open Wide.” Also expect Travel III to give your bass speakers a workout; I think I’ve felt my room shake a little when listening to this album at slightly louder volumes. Again, not something you’d expect from a former worship band. Even some of the acoustic moments seem more aggressive, like the opening of “Working To Be Loved” where it almost seems like the guitar strings are just being played harder.
Other things are changed as well. Singer Eric Owyoung returns to mostly using lower ranges as he did in Twilight, which some listeners may find more pleasurable and others less. More effects are used at different points, both to alter the instruments’ sound and independently as background noises, which are actually very instrumental (no pun intended) in contributing to the new “fuller” sound. But there are a few downfalls to this album. First, there is a very slight drop in both songwriting and production. The song structures may seem a tad less creative and some of the tracks don’t quite feel like they reached their full potential, but came very close. Second, and most importantly, the last two tracks are inexplicably weak. “Horizon Rainfall” sounds like a watered down mish mash of “So Close So Far” and “Sanctitatis” with some gimmicky effects applied to Owyoung’s voice, and “Your Day’s Not Over” is just generally bland and a disappointing way to close such a fantastic series. While the previous tracks are on par with FOF’s earlier outings, these are pretty much letdowns.
In conclusion, Travel III is still a very strong EP. FOF continues to progress their sound, despite not continuing their trend of improving with every release. Still very good, but might be a tad bit underwhelming. Really though, I would still recommend it to fans of the genre, just maybe not as highly as their other work. But as for the Travel series as a whole, it’s really quite exceptional. Future of Forestry goes many different directions, but pulls all of them off as if they had been doing this for years. Any fan of somewhat softer indie rock needs to check some of this out; it’s not every day you find a band that can couple maturity with creativity as these guys do.
Recommended Tracks: Working To Be Loved, Bold And Underlined, Protection