Dashboard Confessional - Crooked Shadows
Oh emo, somehow you keep finding a way to sneak back into the zeitgeist. I'm old enough to remember when Dashboard burst onto the TRL scene; Chris Carrabba clad in his acoustic guitar and wearing his heart on his sleeve was singing the emotions of youth better than almost anyone else. As a teenager this resonated so hard, but as time goes on and Chris gets older it starts to feel more like an arrested development than true emotional growth. He still is the underdog, still can't get the girl and still has a lot to say about it, but Jesus Christ dude you're in your 40s now how about showing some emotional growth or development? The hormones have died down and so should these childish ideas of perfect love, but not for Chris and not for Dashboard. Carrabba traded in the acoustic for bigger stadium sounds a long time ago, but on Crooked Shadows he doubles down with each track being bigger than the last. He is starting to sound a whole lot closer to Coldplay these days even imitating their collaboration with The Chainsmokers by including his own track with Cash Cash. I can't even believe I just wrote that because it seems so utterly silly, but that is exactly what is going on here. "Heart Beat Here" could not be more of a Dashboard song if it was an SNL parody, fully acoustic fully emotional, fully ridiculous. You just expect there to be some kind of lyrical development more than 15 years on in his career but Carrabba writes the exact same way He always has, it just doesn't fit who He is anymore.
The record is graciously short at just under a half an hour that just flies by. None of the songs really stick with you or make an impact, nothing is really much better than the stuff He has done before. "Be Alright" is the big anthem and you can just hear the emo kids, now deep into their thirties, singing along at the top of their lungs at a live show. This album doesn't feel like moving on, it feels like going back sounding exactly like that second Dashboard album when they ditched the acoustics. The album closes on "Just What to Say" which is so fucking sappy and such a clawing way to close out an album. I wish something worked here, I wish these songs connected and felt honest but, they just don't. This feels like a man trying to rekindle something that has long since faded. You'd like to think Carrabba would take a pivot, or blaze a new path with his next record but if history shows us anything it's that He won't.
4.9 out of 10