It’s been a long time since there’s been a new Dashboard Confessional album out in the world. To be precise, it’s been over 8 years since their last album Alter The Ending was released at the tail end of 2009. A lot has happened since then, but with the “emo revival” of recent years, it feels like there’s just as much of a place for Dashboard Confessional in 2018 as there was in the early noughties. With the release of their seventh studio album Crooked Shadows, this is truer than ever.
“We never learned to keep our voices down, no / We only learned to shout so / We find a way in” frontman Chris Carrabba chants in the ambitious opener ‘We Fight’, a track more than fitting for today’s political climate. It’s got that anthemic chorus we’ve come to know and love from the band, and with its positive attitude towards pushing through a struggle, it’s the perfect way to kick us back into that Dashboard Confessional mode.
The introspective ‘About Us’ is a love song written in the best way Carrabba knows how. A true representation of mixing the calm with the storm, its mellow verses is a nostalgic look back at the ups and downs of a relationship, before the soaring vocals reveal “I’m always gonna’ be about us.” Then a classic ballad comes in the form of ‘Heart Beat Here’, delicate acoustic guitar strumming which is of course partnered with those familiar, emotional croons. It isn’t all just soothing slow songs on the record though, the album’s title track is a little grittier than its counterparts as is the upbeat ‘Be Alright’, piecing together all the parts we love and putting it together with some added amplification.
The album is brought to a close with ‘Just What To Say’, filled with both simplicity and intricacy. It’s a heartbreaker of a song and where we were brought in to this album feeling motivated and positive, this one leaves you emotional. You could say that this is the essence of Dashboard Confessional, and something they seem to still perfect after all these years. On the one hand there are the tracks that make you want to sing along at the top of your lungs, then there are the ones that feel like a hard tug at the heartstrings. Whichever it may be, it leaves you feeling glad about their return.