All the hipsters biting their nails and fretting over the thought of a potentially new sound from Dashboard Confessional can give their hands a break. Dusk and Summer, though in some aspects more optimistic, contains the same power chords and emotional wails that have branded Chris Carrabba the “emo king” of the MTV scene.
As far back as The Swiss Army Romance, Carrabba has been leaving his mark (and mission and brand and scar) by conceptualizing the pain and ruin of relationships. Perhaps one of the most well known tracks off Romance, “Screaming Infidelities,” best captures Carrabba’s ability to vocalize the desperation of love (or lust). With lyrics like, “I’m missing your bed/I never sleep/Avoiding the spots where we’d have to speak,” Carrabba accurately embodies the boy who doesn’t pretend not to care where his ex is no matter how many other boys she went through to get there. For many, lost love is an all-too-familiar feeling, which explains Carrabba’s popularity among emo fans.
With his established reputation as an angst-ridden, hopeless romantic, Carrabba’s new release can throw expectant fans for a loop. It seems as though after five or so years singing the same tune – no pun intended – Carrabba and the director decided to showcase Carrabba’s growth as an artist as well as a person.
Carrabba’s love songs, though not entirely reeking of “he got the girl,” express hope in his high-pitched vocals, rather than the expected bittersweet melancholy for which Carrabba is best known. For some, this may be a welcome change; however Carrabba’s music and singing are better suited for the niche he’s carved out of pop-punk power chords and clichÃ©d lyrics.
Though there are some noteworthy songs – namely the title track, which is laced with poetic, tangible lyrics such as, “Some things tie your life together/slender threads and things to treasure/Days like that should last and last and last” – the majority of the album sounds packaged with minimal musical talent and cookie-cutter vocals for the mainstream audience. This is not to say that his music is not enjoyable or catchy, but for the music lover interested in originality and individuality, D would not be the best letter to start with when browsing at your local record store.
Interestingly enough, though every Dashboard album has its own theme, all are easily strung together by one single concept: the notion of being so painfully close to the one you love, but just out of reach. It’s unsure whether this was intended or if Carrabba just has the repetitious misfortune of throwing himself at every unavailable woman toting excess baggage. Although whether it be through bitter, heartbroken lyrics or more hopeful ones, Carrabba ultimately captures that one concept better than any other artist of his genre, probably because he’s had a good six years perfecting the art.
To best exemplify this, compare lyrics from “So Long, So Long” off of Dusk, “How the girls can turn to ghosts before your eyes,” with “The Ghost of a Good Thing” from A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar: “But, you’re chasin’ the ghost of a good thing.” Take note of the repeated use of an archetype to emphasize the fleeting nature of girls and relationships, at least in accordance with Carrabba’s experience. Though the individual feel of every album is different, Carrabba’s limited use of adjectives and archetypes is more than apparent as they are used over and over again.
Overall, the album gets a C. An average grade for average lyrics and music, though not bad enough to barely pass or fail completely. If you’re in the mood for catchy emo-pop, this is greatly recommended. However, if you’re in the market for something outside of the box, you should look elsewhere.