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  The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most
Artist: Dashboard Confessional 
Label: Vagrant Records
Length: 10 tracks

Have you ever had your heart ripped out and stomped on?  Have you ever been dumped big time? Have you ever had someone you are deeply in love with cheat on you?  Ever been told "I only want to be friends, I'm not ready for a relationship?"  If so, then you will either love this disc or want to stay away from it at all costs.

Chris Carrabba, the driving force behind Dashboard Confessional, has compiled a group of ten songs all about the trials of relationships gone wrong.  That may seem like a lot for one album, but it's not overkill. Carrabba has done a masterful job of capturing the full range of emotions that comes with love and rejection: anger, sadness, hate, bitterness, depression, betrayal, and more.  In some cases, he rolls several together in one song.  And unlike many emo bands, Carrabba's vocals are genuine. He makes you believe that he has actually experienced all of these emotions...and, in fact, maybe he has.

From the opening lines of the first song, "Brilliant Dance," Carrabba sets the tone for the album: 

So this is odd, the painful realization that all has gone wrong.
And nobody cares at all...
The titles of the songs say it all: "The Best Deceptions," "The Good Fight," "This Bitter Pill," and "Again I Go Unnoticed" among others. 

And a sampling of lines from other songs:

Ignoring the phone, I'd rather say nothing.  I'd rather you'd never heard my voice.  You're calling too late, too late to be gracious and you do not warrant long goodbyes.

I've written a note.  It's pressed between pages that you've marked to find your way back.  It says 'Does he ever get the girl?

This is where I say I've had enough and no one should ever feel the way that I feel now.   Walking open wound, a trophy display of bruises and I don't believe that I'm getting any better.

Which of the bold faced lies will we use? I hope that you're happy, you really deserve it, this will be best for us both in the end.

As a guy, these are all feelings and emotions that I have felt as the result of lost relationships.  I can't speak for women, but I imagine that these feelings are universal and will hit home for them as well. 

This album is a bit of a change for Carrabba, who just finished a short stint as the lead singer of  Further Seems Forever (he was on board long enough to record vocals for the album The Moon is Down, but left the band before it was released.)  His last album, Swiss Army Romance is  primarily Carrabba and an acoustic guitar.  Not much else.  This time around he has added a bit of a band behind him, but this is still primarily an acoustic-emo outing.  And the backing vocals from Jolie Lindholm add a sweet touch.

Eight of these songs are new releases, while two of them ("Screaming Infidelities" and "Again I Go Unnoticed") were originally done on the last album and get an updated treatment here with the band.

Every song is a winner, with lyrics that take me back to the "good old days" of rejection and failed romance.  I'm not sure why any of us would want to open those old wounds again, but there is something very compelling here.  If you want to re-experience that depression, or if you are in the midst of a bad situation and want to know that you are not alone, then give this disc a spin.

Ken Mueller 5/19/2001

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