Chris Carrabba has made a career out of wearing his heart on his sleeve. Even if you find him whiny, overly emotional and depressing, it’s hard not being able to relate to his tales of hopeless romance and love gone sour. On its fourth studio release, Dusk and Summer, Dashboard Confessional furthers its progress from acoustic tear-jerkers to heavier, full-blown arena rock, thanks in part to producers Daniel Lanois and Don Gilmore, who have worked with artists such as U2 and Bob Dylan.

“Slow Decay” is surprisingly angry and dark, as Carabba channels My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way as he screams out “I didn’t hate those that I killed but they’re all dead now,” accompanied by thick and heavy guitar work. Meanwhile, first single “Don’t Wait” immediately recalls Coldplay with its arena-friendly melodies and Carrabba’s chanting.

Carrabba lyrically sticks to the formula that has made his group extremely popular among the college-aged set, using his distinctive high-pitched voice to belt out sincere songs about the highs and lows of love and relationships. The acoustic “Dusk and Summer” is the song most reminiscent of Dashboard’s early work, while “Stolen” is a mellow ballad dedicated to emotional thievery, with Carrabba whispering the chorus “You have stolen my heart.”

The best track is “So Long, So Long,” a piano-driven duet with Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz. The song, originally performed with solo vocals in recent Dashboard concerts, is a dedication to aimless driving as a means of reminiscing over a past love. Unfortunately, tracks like “The Secret’s In The Telling” and “Rooftops and Invitations” are less interesting musically and don’t capture the same feel that the better songs do.

Ultimately, Dusk and Summer may not convince past Dashboard Confessional critics of their musical merits. But long-term fans will surely find plenty of music to enjoy. Make sure to keep some tissues nearby, though.

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