By now, Dashboard Confessional has established itself
as the reigning monarch on the new acoustic indie scene, a
scene that includes Pedro The Lion, Onelinedrawing,
and many others. With an emo pedigree and striking good looks,
along with a gift for writing songs that are heartfelt, universal,
and, yes, confessional, Dashboard de facto, Christopher
Ender Carrabba, is a new generation’s Morrissey.
To draw that comparison out too far would do a disservice
to both artists, but it’s essentially true nonetheless.
Carrabba introduced the Dashboard esthetic, a sincere, heart-on-the-sleeve
departure from the harder core of his bands, the Vacant
Andys and Further Seems Forever, on the Drowning
EP. The esthetic was further refined on the debut full-length,
Swiss Army Romance, and was perfected on last year’s
masterful The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most. The
follow-up to that record has been eagerly anticipated by more
than just the adolescents who form Dashboard’s core audience
and who identify most strongly with Carrabba’s lyrical themes.
Folks in their twenties and thirties have also found something
compelling in Carrabba’s passion, his candor, his stripped-bare
style, and, especially, in his riveting, involving, and moving
That follow-up is a four-song cycle about the thrill and
excitement of falling in love, or at least deep infatuation.
The fluid lineup of Dashboard Confessional, which Carrabba
continually insists is more than just a solo project, has
previously included former bandmates and friends. This time
out, Dashboard Confessional is Carrabba and former Sunny
Day Real Estate guitarist Dan Horner. The opening
track, "For You To Notice…", sounds vaguely like
the Dream Academy’s great 80s hit, "Life
In A Northern Town". In it, our narrator for this story
sings an open letter to the object of his longing about how
he might best capture his/her attention. The title track follows,
telling the story of these two acquaintances arranging to
meet up at a party, under the pretense of getting two of their
friends together, while secretly hoping that they themselves
will end up together. This leads to "Remember To Breathe",
a tense tale of each of the characters preparing for their
first meeting. Here, our narrator’s insecurity is most palpable
and easiest to identify with: I try on my blue shirt/She
told me she liked it once…/So sneakers or flip flops?/I’m
starting to panic!/Remember she asked you/Remember to breathe
and everything will be okay. Finally, our heroes meet
up and hook up in the double entendre "Hands Down".
The music has quietly built by this time throughout the duration
of the record to the crescendo appropriate to this narrative
Without a doubt, this is Dashboard’s most unabashedly romantic
record yet. The lyrical content and the musical style are
slightly quieter and less intensely driven than anything on
Places, and there’s nothing particularly new about
the music here, but the vulnerability and sweetness of this
record is nothing less than teenage ecstasy, the kind that
can be appreciated by teens of all ages.
If you’ve ever had a crush that made you feel like your heart
would burst, you’ll know what this record is playing at. You,
like most of Dashboard’s fans, will want to reach out and
hug Carrabba, and, while you enjoy the camaraderie of that
brief embrace, you’ll want to whisper in his hear, "I
know." Who doesn’t?
- Eryc Eyl
- For You To Notice
- So Impossible
- Remember To Breathe
- Hands Down
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