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Dashboard Confessional ditches their roots on ‘Crooked Shadows’

Photo Courtesy of iTunes

As much as I enjoy contemporary music, I have to admit that rock has had a difficult time adapting to the modern musical landscape.

With former rock frontrunners like Fall Out Boy, Weezer and Linkin Park abandoning their respective sounds and releasing some of their cringiest material in years, it is obvious how much rock music is in dire need of a musical revolution. Unfortunately, Dashboard Confessional’s newest album, “Crooked Shadows,” is a huge step away from that revolution.

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While I have never been a diehard fan of Dashboard Confessional, I have always admired from a distance their mark on the popularizing of early 2000s emo. Up until now they have stayed pretty attached to the genre. However, on “Crooked Shadows” the bands takes a sharp right into pop territory and it is a mess.

The album kicks off with a surprising strong start with “We Fight.” The verses are somewhat reserved, but they eventually climax into an anthemic chorus that is explosive to say the least. It has some of the best production as well. The vocals and instrumentals are clean, but not overly sanitized to the point where they lose their humanity.

“Catch You” is another solid song from the tracklist. It reminds me a lot of The Maine’s song “Bliss” in a good way. The synths complement the guitars well and despite the song being quieter, lead singer Chris Carrabba is passionate in his vocal delivery and keeps the emotion in the track alive.

Unfortunately, that is about it in terms of highlights for me. The third track, “About Us,” is when the album really begins to fall off. There is a similar rawness to “We Fight” on the first half of the chorus, but the rest of the track, and album, takes an immediate nosedive into cliche pop rock.

“Heart Beat Here” and “Just What to Say” with Chrissy Costanza of Against the Current are two boring acoustic cuts with no bite to them whatsoever. Costanza’s voice is nice, however, she contributes next to nothing except background vocals. She could have been taken out and it would not have made the song any better or worse.

“Belong” with Cash Cash is a sugary EDM pop crossover taken straight out of 2012. At this point the verses are unimaginative, but they are not even the worst part. The song’s drop courtesy of Cash Cash is like a castrated version of what the trio was putting out years ago. Not only that, but the lyrics throughout the track are incredibly cliche and uninspired.

Reach out and take my hand

We got the radio pumping jams

We don’t got no map and we don’t got plans

We don’t gotta follow anyone’s demands”

-“Belong,” Dashboard Confessional

“Open My Eyes” with Lindsey Stirling is a disappointment. While Stirling’s solo performances as well as collaborations are usually pretty decent, on “Open My Eyes,” her violin is mixed so faintly into the background that I did not even notice it the first time I heard it. Rather than sounding like a virtuoso violinist, she instead sounds like an ordinary violinist brought in by the record label to provide instrumental variety.

The album’s title track and “Be Alright” both attempt to regain the energy held in the first two songs, however, they both end up falling flat on their faces. “Crooked Shadows” is the stronger of the two, however, the vocals on the verses are so wimpy that the decent production and chorus’ melody can only do so much. “Be Alright” on the other hand has absolutely nothing worth remembering.

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Should you listen to it? No

On “Crooked Shadows,” Dashboard Confessional pretty much has abandoned everything that  once made them interesting in favor of a trendier sound that does not complement their style in the slightest. It is especially bizarre that a band of this age and experience would stoop to pandering to a larger audience despite accumulating a dedicated fanbase through their string of releases. Coming away from this album, I feel the same way coming out as I did going in. I came into this review not expecting a lot, and I came out enjoying a handful of tracks. If you are curious to see how the band has progressed into the modern day, then maybe give this album a listen. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did.

Best Songs: “We Fight,” “Catch You”

Worst Song: “Belong”

Available on: Spotify and iTunes

Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry

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