Emo Confessional

I hate Chris Carraba's ex-girlfriends, and I've never even met them. It's not their fault, really--his project, Dashboard Confessional, puts me vicariously through all of his heartbreak.

Originally of Florida's hardcore scene, Carraba made his name in the emo group Further Seems Forever (who happen to be scheduled for a show at the Coffee House Feb. 5). With emotion still rawer than the oysters at Fishmongers, Carraba now skips the emo clichZs and makes his lyrics more intimate and his stories more vivid--and somehow it never gets nauseating. Unlike the oysters, Dashboard is hardly an aphrodesiac. The songs are tales of lovers lost instead of lovers' lust.

Carraba has the ability to express vast frustration, heartache and longing without relying on the flowery prose of stereotypical emo. On one of Dashboard's signature tracks, "Screaming Infidelities," he wails to his girlfriend that "your hair/ it's everywhere/ screaming infidelities/ and taking its wear"--it walks on a fine rope of cheese, but the guy is so damned honest that he gets away with it.

The name "Dashboard Confessional" suggests sultry HBO sleaze, and the voyeuristic element is not far off. It's like Sex and the City told by a sensitive teenage boy, and the intimately acoustic setting suits that fine. Dashboard's second album, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, fleshed out the sound of the first, Swiss Army Romance, with more instrumentation. Though Jolie Lindholm's backup melodies and the added percussion brought new dimension to Dashboard's sound, the old intimacy suffered a bit as a result. A new EP called So Impossible was recently released with all new material, but hopefully those girls will break his heart into some more great full-length albums.

--Mark Pike


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