Whilst also fronting Further Seems Forever, Chris Carrabba made a name for himself as an emo icon when he established his solo project, Dashboard Confessional.
An acoustic guitar and a talent for writing vulnerable heart-wreaking lyrics, he released successful album after successful album and was a hit in the MTV era. Now, as the new decade begins, he reflects back on the past twenty years with a compilation of hits, ‘The Best Ones Of The Best Ones’.
The album opens with ‘Screaming Infidelities’, the first track from his 2000 debut, ‘The Swiss Army Romance’, a slow acoustic piece with emo traits and shouting whiney, off-key vocals. This is followed up by the aforementioned debut’s title-track, another early hit with a faster, more upbeat angsty tone. The record continues to follow this pattern of mixing sadness and angst; the main two components of any Dashboard Confessional song.
‘The Best Ones Of The Best Ones’ is very much a straight run from the beginning of Dashboard Confessional‘s career to now. Whilst a collection like this might’ve been worth while in the record store era, in a modern streaming world it feels a bit redundant to create an uninspired collection like this which is better suited to being a streaming service best of playlist.
One notably interesting choice was to include three MTV live recorded tracks in the middle. The live take of 2001’s ‘The Best Deceptions’, for example, doesn’t offer a large amount of diversity in a collection of tracks from a primarily acoustic performing artist. However, the live aspects that come with it, such as crowd sing-alongs and applause, does give some life to an otherwise dull track list.
In the latter part of the record, ‘Belle Of The Boulevard’ breathes life into the collection, with a larger range sound created by the use of classical instruments. It builds from a slow start to an uplifting chorus and rises and falls, giving this track more character than most of the record. ‘Heart Beat Here’ brings the compilation to a satisfying conclusion; it’s a blend of the solemn acoustic vibes Dashboard Confessional gained fame for and a more modern country/indie rock sound, showing growth as an artist within recent releases.
This collection of twenty songs spanning across the past two decades sadly only highlights Dashboard Confessional‘s lack of range. If you’re looking for an acoustic emo jam then you’re spoilt for choice here, but don’t expect any surprises or even more than a minor change in tone. Individually the songs on ‘The Best Ones Of The Best Ones’ are enjoyable, but compiling them together causes them to sound a little monotone.