Dashboard Confessional – The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
Released March 20th, 2001 on Vagrant Records
Produced by James Paul Wisner
Peaked at #108 US (#5 US Indie)
In my second year of college I broke up with my high school girlfriend and shortly after got together with my wife. Suffice to say that I had an emo phase, in the old sense of the term, or in the “midwest” sense of the term. I got into the Promise Ring, the Get-Up Kids, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, etc. etc. To be fair I was also really into Rites of Spring at the time, so it’s not like it was just a second-wave thing. There was also a heavy local component to it. I went to college in Brantford, Ontario, which at the time had a vibrant musical scene. On the extremely small chance that someone from those days happens upon this little bit of reminiscence: I saw the Knid at the Bat Cave, and of course also at the Ford Plant, as well as Constantines, White Star Line, Sour Keys, and first EP-era Arcade Fire.
This is a long way around saying that I obviously had a brief but intense infatuation with Dashboard Confessional.
Who didn’t in those days? It was the most accessible emo album you could recommend to outsiders, especially cute outsiders. You could sing along with the lyrics en masse; they were easy enough to pick up a guitar and cover. The other bands (including singer Chris Carrabba’s own Further Seems Forever) were heavier; you needed someone who knew what they were doing on the guitar to play most of it, especially the better stuff. Plus if you knew heartbreak and longing (and who didn’t, at that age?) you could insert yourself into the lyrics quite easily, without thinking too critically about it.
Looking back on this album as a grown-ass man it’s honestly pretty cringe. I can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone like 2001-era Carrabba; it seems like it would be absolutely exhausting. How are we supposed to take lyrics like “Well, as for now I’m gonna hear the saddest songs / And sit alone and wonder how you’re making out / But as for me, I wish that I was anywhere with anyone making out”? Who greenlit that line? What about “But what if the pages stay pressed / The chapters unfinished
The stories too dull to unfold? / Does he ever get the girl?” I can’t take this seriously. I just did a parody sing along to the title track with my daughter’s stuffed moose. Come on now.
Still, once upon a time this was an album that was, if not helpful, at least cathartic. Plus the packaging was kinda slick; it came in one of those thick paper sleeves instead of a plastic CD case and that screamed “cutting edge indie rock” to me at the time. Note that this is also why I thought Jets To Brazil were good for the longest time.
At any rate, there are many better albums from 2001, but few that speak of a certain time and a certain place, with a certain wrenching of the heart.