Review Summary: Can Dashboard Confessional truly alter their ending?
Many people are familiar with Dashboard Confessional and the famous The Places you Have Come To Fear The Most
, an album that front man and pivotal member Chris Carrabba put out at the turn of the century. The acoustic project conveyed underlying pop hooks and angst-ridden emotions in a way that even naysayers of the genre took notice and found solace in the honest confessionals. Subsequent releases turned out to be hit or miss, however, as Chris tried to switch up the formula a few times; he went as far as to throw distortion, a full band, and more traditional pop song structures into the mix. 2007’s The Shade of the Poison Trees
saw a return to the acoustic-led anthems; however, the effort was just not quite up to par with the project’s earliest offerings, and people began to wonder if Chris could ever return the project to its glory days.
Two years later and we are presented with the aptly titled, Alter the Ending
. The general sound of the album harkens back to 2006’s Dusk and Summer
with its more blatant approach in terms of pop rock hooks and a return to a full-band inclusion. Those that were turned off by that album shouldn’t walk away just yet though as the deluxe edition of the album features acoustic versions of all the songs that are presented here.
The album turns out to be a rather inconsistent affair; a problem that has infected the majority of the band’s releases. Whereas “Get Me Right”, with its religious and honest tendencies, jells perfectly with the pop rock and youthful awakenings of “Until the Morning”, “Everybody Learns From Disaster” and “I Know About You” deliver painfuly generic sounds that recall the filler that littered various parts of Dusk and Summer
. The album continues on much in the same vein, delivering sets of pleasant, if somewhat subtle, pop rock songs before hitting blocks of filler in the forms of “The Motions”, “Water and Bridges”, and “Even Now” that are spaced throughout the album.
Other highlights that bring a smile to the face are the title track and the closer, “Hell on the Throat”. “Alter the Ending” is pop rock song done correctly with a proper build-up in the verse that delivers a satisfying chorus. The song’s lyrics can extend to many subjects as a relationship quickly comes to mind; however, a look at the band’s rocky and unsettled future may be a more relevant subject given the fact that Dashboard Confessional has recently cancelled their tour with New Found Glory. “Hell on the Throat” is an appropriate closing to the album, giving listeners an acoustic-picked ode to Chris Carrabba’s journeys as a singer and a lover. the song ends humbly, and listeners are left with memories of the band’s earliest offerings.
The end result of Alter the Ending
is a good, albeit inconsistent album that probably won't go too far in reassuring the band’s questionable future. The band just can’t seem to pick out a style to build upon and call their own, as evidenced by the project’s frequent changes from release to release. This outing doesn’t contain anything terrible per se, but there is nothing exceptional either, creating a situation where the album may please fans but won’t garner much attention in the mainstream. As recent times have unfortunately shown: if a band like Dashboard Confessional can restore their mainstream appeal, is the true factor in determining how and if they alter the ending.