Dashboard Confessional | The Shade of Poison Trees (Vagrant)

cd_dashboard.jpgLyrically, the songs are overly straightforward and descriptive, lacking the poetic symbolism found in previous favorites and, in turn, sounding more like words written by Ben Folds than what we’ve grown to expect from Carrabba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are two ways of looking at things. There is always an optimistic and a pessimistic perspective. The proverbial glass half-full…or is it half-empty?

The brand new Dashboard Confessional album The Shade of Poison Trees exemplifies this ideology. Simply put, I’m not sure what to think. Do you want more of the same, or do you want to hear something fresh?

Previous efforts almost fit to a template—in a nutshell, songs about relationships. With friends, I joked about how this process would go.

(Read with a friend)

SCENE #1 ( Record executives office at Vagrant; Chris Carrabba enters, looking cheerful)

RECORD GUY: "Hey Chris, how are you?"

CHRIS: "Good. Really good."

RECORD GUY: "Good… hmmm. I guess that is good. Chris. This might sound a little forward but are you dating anyone?"

CHRIS: "Well, no. Not right now."

RECORD GUY: "Hmm… Let me tell you something. People around here are getting very anxious waiting for the new album. So some of us were just wondering, when are you going to start dating again?"

When I got this album, I was looking for more of the same. The melancholy Dashboard that helps a listener cope with the heartbreak. The night drive Dashboard that gives you a background to scream along with the windows rolled down. The emotion of Dashboard that makes you yearn to beat your frustrations out on a strangely tuned guitar.

Instead of the night drive I was hoping for, the album became more comparable to a drive-through. Simply put, it is over before it starts and leaves little to remember. Clocking in barely over a half hour of music, many of the songs run together like they were written as one.

As a whole, the album takes an angry vibe, featuring songs depicting gold diggers and fake personalities replacing the heartbreaking tales of lost love and poor-me. If Chris Carrabba’s songs have any truth behind them, his last girlfriend must have pissed him off real good.

Lyrically, the songs are overly straightforward and descriptive, lacking the poetic symbolism found in previous favorites and, in turn, sounding more like words written by Ben Folds than what we’ve grown to expect from Carrabba. The most noticeable missing piece is the lack of Carrabba’s angst-filled screams. Instead, he delivers a breathy falsetto, which comes nowhere close to carrying as much heart.

On the bright side, this effort does feature more acoustic-driven numbers, making it a nice return to the early days of Dashboard compared to the rock electrics that have come to dominate in recent years. And I still found myself with a song or two stuck in my head. The melodies are catchy as they cater to pop sounds, and Carrabba’s creativity on guitar still shines.

Overall, this album is a toss up. It depends on what aspects of Dashboard one feels still remain or wind up missing in action. I miss the heart. I miss the drive. I was looking for too much of the same. C | Todd Sarvies

RIYL: Motion City Soundtrack, Jimmy Eat World

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