Bear in mind, I write this review from the perspective of somebody who lives in the UK. As such, I don't live in a country where Dashboard Confessional are even famous. Of the people that do know about them, a large portion will refer to them as 'that band from the Spiderman soundtrack'.
With that in mind, this album fascinates me. The songs are uniformly good, but not great. Highlights - "Hands Down", "The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most", "Screaming Infidelities", "The Best Deceptions" - are just about discernable, but only just. The instrumentation is simple, but gets the job done. There are occasional flashes of lyrical genius, but there's just as many couplets that make me cringe. All in all, Dashboard Confessional can be simply summed up as 'just another band'.
But the fans! Jesus. Never in my life have I seen such single-minded devotion and worship. They know every word to every song, sing along all the time, and cheer at all the right points (and a lot of the wrong points, too). Chris actually gives up on singing at certain points on the album, simply because he realises he can't actually hear himself
. Even the yelp of joy that greets his announcement that 'So, this is Unplugged' verges on mass hysteria. Their mass singalong means that these songs are transformed from typical wounded singer-songwriter material into - without being too pretentious about it - hymns. It lends the album a real intimacy, and ups the emotional resonance tenfold. It's also a little grating, and it gets annoying over the course of the whole album.
And that's all before you see the DVD. Yikes. To be fair, the DVD is much better, though. Somehow, the sense of togetherness and harmony or whatever else new age nonsense that the CD is so clearly trying to communicate comes across much better with visuals, and it seems a little less annoying. Maybe because you can actually see all the mildly attractive college girls screaming at him.
So, if you're one of those mildly attractive, hysterical college girls, this is, needless to say, essential. If you're not, you might consider it worth a look anyway, if only for a sense of mild amusement.
Then again, maybe we shouldn't complain about the fans. After all, without their contribution, 'Dashboard Confessional Unplugged' would be a little redundant, wouldn't it?