Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Dashboard Confessional

Dashboard Confession
The Shade of Poison Trees

After the slightly disappointing sales of Dashboard Confessional’s 2006 release Dusk and Summer, teenage heartbreak heartthrob Chris Carrabba has gone to great lengths to give the kids exactly what they want. The Shade of Poison Trees replaces Dusk’s overly produced, full band arrangements with the familiar acoustic sound of earlier releases. While he succeeds with the reproducing the format – even down to the screen print album cover art - the quality of the actual songs is a bit mixed.

The album’s opening track is also its best. The story of a celebrity whose friends disappear when the money does, “Where There’s Gold” finds Carrabba opening up without falling back on his usual first person narrative with lyrics like, “You throw yourself into their arms/Mistresses have all the fun, but no one's ever there to take you home.”

The next few tracks continue strong with acoustic strumming and pop sensibilities, most of which clock in under the three minute mark. Standouts include the up tempo “Thick as Thieves” and “The Rush,” a love letter that any girl would die to receive - “I'll love you tonight and tomorrow you may just feel the same.”

About thee-fourths of the way through the album, however, the momentum is lost. “Little Bombs” sounds like signature Dashboard until the forgettable chorus and “I Light My Own Fires Now” seems better suited for Carrabba’s early work with Further Seems Forever. The lowest point on Shade is “Matters of Blood and Connection,” the Dashboard version of a rap battle, where a spoiled Cambrige kid is dissed for faking street cred. Despite the lull, the album finishes nicely with “Clean Breaks” and the piano-driven “The Widow’s Peak.”

Regardless of Shade’s missteps, Dashboard was wise to pull back from its leanings toward big, athemic rock songs. Millions of screaming girls have already proven that Chris Carrabba can fill an arena with just an acoustic guitar and his shaky tenor.

Rating: Burn a friend's copy

Where There's Gold [MP3]

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