Dashboard Confessional are a name well known in the world of rock music. Once they were superstars of the early-2000’s emo scene, but after eight albumless years, they have faded into the background slightly. I had never actually heard anything by the band myself before this album, despite loving 2000’s emo, so I felt like this would be the perfect introduction to the band. The album, however, wasn’t quite what I’d expected.
Before I listened to the album, I had a brief listen to some of their previous material, and felt the nostalgic feelings I knew all too well, bringing back memories of another time- back in my early teens when I had begun to explore the rock music of the decade. The sound of a strained voice emptying out all of their emotions to a soundtrack of a range of guitar sounds was something familiar, but not exactly welcoming, reminding me of music I’d long since forgotten.
Opener ‘We Fight’ is quite similar, if a little more refined. Vocalist Chris Carrabba’s voice sounds cleaner on it that anything I’ve heard before by the band, and the guitars aren’t quiet as loud as they used to be, giving more space in the mix for the vocals. A solid start. Imagine my surprise, then, when second track ‘Catch You’ adds airy synth stabs into the chorus. So the band are starting to innovate a bit- great! There’s nothing wrong with bands changing and adding new things into their music- no-one gets better by doing the same thing over and over again.
Unfortunately, this album’s problem is that it goes too far away from what the band seem comfortable with, resulting in songs that just don’t sound quite right. The choruses of songs like ‘About Us’ and ‘Belong’ suffer from overproduction, sounding almost jarringly sweet and upbeat compared to the rest of the album. There are some saving graces towards the end, with fantastic guest appearances from Lindsey Stirling and Chrissy Costanza, but they are just not enough to save this album.
But don’t get me wrong, this album doesn’t lack in heart, or effort, and there are definitely some great songs on it. The problem is, the overproduction just makes some of the songs sound way too jarring to give it a good score.
Best songs: We Fight, Catch You, Just What To Say