From dusk 'til yawn
With 'emo' suddenly going mainstream (thanks to the likes of Panic! At The Disco and Fallout Boy) genre lynchpins Dashboard Confessional couldn't have timed their return to these shores any better. 'Dusk And Summer' is the fourth studio album from the multi-million selling four piece and could be the record that finally cracks the lucrative UK market. Formed in 2000, Dashboard was originally conceived as an acoustic alternative to vocalist/guitarist Chris Carrabba's day job in 'Further Seems Forever'. Six years down the line and the acoustic guitars have largely been ditched in favour of glossy MTV endorsed "modern rock".
Opener 'Don't Wait' certainly shows the band picked up one or two tips from U2 when they supported them in the period between 2003's 'A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar' (which sold a million copies worldwide) and this new LP that's been two years in the making. Guitars are tuned to 'epic stadium rock' and photogenic front-man Chris Carrabba belts out the lyrics like America's answer to Bono. Coincidentally this is the first single to be taken from the album and it's a reasonable taster of what's to come in the remaining forty minutes. Elsewhere the band straddle the divide between very melodic hardcore and commercial 'indie' rock on the moderately enjoyable 'Reasons To Believe' and the raucous rocker 'Slow Decay', which echoes the best bits of Jimmy Eat World. The remainder of the album is disappointingly dreary though and is weighed down with too many wishy-washy rock ballads destined for the next 'One Tree Hill' soundtrack. The ubiquitous Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz lends his husky tones to the sickly 'So Long, So Long' (a crisply produced but ultimately hollow affair) and there's even worse to come on the M.O.R. worthy 'Currents' and the pedestrian 'Heaven Here'. Not all the ballads are achingly dull though (thankfully) the best of the bunch is the wistful, acoustic title track and the Coldplay infused bonus track 'Vindicated'.
In conclusion 'Dusk and Summer' is a vaguely pleasant album of epic, chest beating, anthemic rock music with an emphasis on earnest ballads. If you're searching for the spirit of rock 'n' roll in this release you certainly won't find it, for Dashboard Confessional's music will never take you to giddy stratospheres. 'Dusk and Summer' lacks the sharp edges of a truly good rock record, it has neither the bite or lyrical dexterity of a Weezer or Death Cab For Cutie platter. As a listener it's also hard to feel much empathy for a good looking, millionaire rock star peddling a sanitised form of angst to the masses. Whether the music buying public will share my opinions on this point is another matter entirely.