Dashboard Confessional - A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dashboard Confessional

A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar (2003)


It's a great mainstream rock album.

Oh, you want to know more? Well, there's not much else to say. Any remainder of the Dashboard Confessional thousands of kids fell in love with - one man, one guitar, one heart pouring out - is pretty much three sheets to the wind by this point. The full band has become what Dashboard Confessional is now, with the solo acoustic tracks becoming more of an afterthought than anything else [as shown by the producton credits].

"The Ghost Of A Good Thing" is tied for the album's worst track [sharing the honors with the cringeworthy "Hey Girl" and the way-too-forced "If You Can't Leave It Be, Might As Well Make It Bleed"] simply because of the terrible vocals in the chorus. The song itself isn't too bad, but Carrabba's multi-layered and terribly falsetto "getting away, away, away, awaaaaay" towards the end of the song is like nails on a chalkboard.

"Hands Down" is by far the album's standout track, being transfigured into a full band number that really rips through it's three minutes like no tomorrow. It's a fun song, and is sure to really break this album wide open in terms of radio and video play [as a side note: I'm predicting this album will sell over 100,000 copies in it's first week of release].

Carrabba's lyrics - while not on pace to win the Mercury Prize any time soon - haven't decreased in potency at all, and what he lost in musical intimacy with the new band he gained in lyrical introspection on a majority of the songs. His voice sounds more solid in general [with the exception of the aforementioned "Ghost"].

The band really tears into "Morning Calls" with a ferocity the group has never seen before, and 6-minute closer "Several Ways To Die Trying" is a sort of sequel to "Ender Will Save Us All," as Chris bellows "I'm dying to live" to close the album.

The pop aspect is stronger than ever, too, in tracks like "Rapid Hope Loss" and the bouncy "As Lovers Go." Both are definite plusses in the band's catalog.

There's virtually no trace of what people seem to call "emo" these days on this disc, but as I said before, this is a great mainstream rock album, and that seems to be what it's going to be. What to expect in the future? Well, to paraphrase from a live review I wrote of Dashboard's last show in Chicago back in October, the music is better but the fans are going to get worse.

Regardless, I'm not ashamed to have this record in my collection. I might never go see him live again, but I'll still sing along in the comfort of my own home. Odds are, most of you will too.

Worth owning.

The Ghost Of A Good Thing
Hands Down
Bend And Not Break