Dashboard Confessional – Summers Kiss EP

Dashboard Confessional
Summers Kiss EP

It seems to me that you either love Dashboard Confessional or you hate them. From the young girls that go crazy with tears and sing along to every word at the live performances to the two-line review in another publication that reads, “This guy is nothing but a fraud! Never saw a bigger fraud taking kid’s money.” Maybe it’s just me, but I like Chris Carrabba better when he has an actual band behind him. It is then that his songs aren’t as dismissible as whiney trash, and it all just seems to work out better for everyone involved. This goes for Dashboard Confessional’s recorded efforts as well as the shows.
With Summers Kiss, the second EP released by the former Further Seems Forever frontman and his endless string of supporting musicians in the past couple of months, Carrabba is joined by guitarist Mike Stroud, bassist Dan Bonebrake, and drummer Mike Marsh, the latter two of which also participated in the making of the band’s breakthrough effort, The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most. The songs on this release may sound familiar, as all four tracks were already released back in 2000 on Carrabba’s debut and essentially solo effort, The Swiss Army Romance. The new twist is the added instrumentation.
In their initial form, these four songs were strictly Carrabba and his acoustic guitar, with maybe just a hint of keyboard or supporting female vocals, but now they are morphed with a full band sound that suits them quite nicely. The backing vocals of drummer Mike Marsh compliment Carrabba perfectly, as does the additional guitar work of Mike Stroud, which adds some dimension to Carrabba’s strumming. There is even a little distortion and feedback on “Ender Will Save Us All.” “Living In Your Letters” remains the gentle and adorable love song that it always has been, sure to make its way onto countless romantic mix tapes. “The Sharp Hint of New Tears” remains largely the same as its original version, only with the addition of tom tapping, light cymbal crashes, and some keys during the brief instrumental break. “Turpentine Chaser” is the winner of the “most improved” award here, benefiting strongly from the aforementioned supporting vocals and guitar. And then there is the closing pseudo-rocker, “Ender Will Save Us All,” which starts of softly and builds to a musical eruption of sorts, or as much of an eruption as an acoustic lovey-dovey track can be expected to take part in.
Carrabba seems to be going the way of mass exposure, with recent appearances everywhere from MTV to Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and it would not be surprising if he and his bandmates were sucked into a major label at some point in the near future. As for me, I’ll just sit back and remember when I could listen to Dashboard Confessional without gaining the immediate attention of flocks of young girls. Okay, so maybe that wouldn’t be so bad after all, but you get the point.