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Dashboard Confessional

The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most


Alternative Press recently published its list of the "best breakup albums of all time," or something like that. As usual, the list leaves off a lot of classics. Where's Joni Mitchell's Blue? Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine? Bob Mould's Black Sheets of Rain? Those were my choices for getting through the "get lost" blues. 

Dashboard Confessional takes a stab at the tradition of creating music that only those who've been dumped, deceived or betrayed can understand and embrace. These songs are directed with laser-beam accuracy toward the 18-and-under crowd who are looking for allies in their lost battles with love.

The first-person lyrics -- directed at an ex-lover -- are painfully simple but too often cross into trite territory. Let's be honest, when you're wandering blankly in the aftershock of being dumped, trite is exactly what you're looking for. Especially if you're young and this is your first heartbreak and you're just starting to realize no one really gives a shit about your situation.

I can already hear the kids singing every word to "The Best Deceptions" -- with the lyric And all the 'Best Deceptions' and 'Clever Cover Story' awards go to you/So kiss me hard 'cause this will be the last time that I let you -- while they lean forward to touch mastermind Christopher Ender Carrabba's hand, weeping unashamedly.

Unfortunately, Carrabba has a nasty habit of going too far, like on the treacle-y "This Bitter Pill," which borders on the work of Corey Flood, the character played by Lili Taylor in Say Anything, who uttered the movie's most pathetic line: "I've written 57 songs about Joe, and I'm gonna sing every one of them tonight," while, off to the side, people are snickering at her.

The CD's ultimate downfall is its all-too-often juvenile approach. Anyone over 18 will merely shake their heads and say, "Yeah, it does suck, but you'll survive." And those who've never been on the business end of the relationship sword won't get it all. They'll only hear whiney, cry-baby, "poor me" music mixed with a twist of self-loathing. Carrabba's high-school voice betrays commercial intentions and will keep The Places You Have Come... forever off that AP list and instead, as in my case and anyone over 20, places it in the "guilty pleasures" category. 

back torevhead.gif (1924 bytes)   Posted May 10, 2001. Copyright 2001 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Rating: No

Obligatory pull-quote: "Directed with laser-beam accuracy toward the 18-and-under crowd, desperately looking for allies in their lost battles with love. Juvenile lyrics ultimately make this greasy kids' stuff."