After two full-lengths, countless EP’s, year-round touring, a
somewhat redundant MTV Unplugged special and a bit of indie
backlash, it looks like emo poster boy Chris Carrabba may have
finally found his voice on Dashboard Confessional’s latest record,
A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. And it’s slightly less
whiney than everyone expected.

J. Brady McCollough
J. Brady McCollough
Courtesy of Vagrant Records.
So sad, so real … so handsome.

It’s an old tale, really. A handsome guy writes catchy songs on
an indie label, gets some airplay and a little media attention, and
suddenly he’s a sellout. Remember when it was still cool to like
Weezer? Yeah, it’s kinda like that with Dashboard. Whininess and
magazine covers aside, Carrabba may have redeemed himself with his
latest release.

A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, the band’s third LP,
finds Carrabba backed by a full band on nearly every track. In the
past, Dashboard were more of a solo project from the front man of
Further Seems Forever. This time around, the songs contain a
fullness that acoustic singer/songwriters often lack. Carrabba has
also grown up significantly. He even branches out into some almost
country rhythms, adding a long overdue dose of variety.

But it’s on the ballads where Carrabba and Co. really shine. Fan
favorite “Hands Down,” previously released on the So
EP, starts the CD off with a happy tune for a
change. “Am I Missing” has a great, layered chorus. Sing along with
a friend. The rest of the album more or less follows suit, much
more upbeat than the band’s earlier work. Gone are the days of,
“Your taste still lingers on my lips like I just placed them upon
yours.” Now it’s, “Where we come from, we live like it’s the latest
attraction.” It’s good to see you smiling again, Chris.

All things considered, A Mark is a pretty good album.
Just don’t let your hipster friends know you bought it. Hide it in
your Bright Eyes collection or something.

Rating: 3 stars.

















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