Armed with an acoustic guitar, a so-so voice, Luke Perry sideburns and enough residual teen angst to captivate high school students across the country, Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba is, much to his chagrin, the new metrosexual poster boy for Emo-lite. His band’s second full-length album, A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar, brims with the kind of attentive observation (“You stood at your door with your hands on my waist”) and vulnerable poetry (“My heart is yours…to break or bury, or wear as jewelry”) that turn teenage girls to mush. Carrabba—like Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins, but with a less distinctive voice—follows the Emo formula superbly with whispered verses, shouted choruses and bridges that fall somewhere in between. The album is a rather seamless mix of folky acoustic ballads (“Carry This Picture”) and less glossy pop-punk (“If You Can’t Leave It Be, Might As Well Make It Bleed”) with a sweeping power that’s both intimate and intricate. And did I mention the heartfelt poetry? “I’m talented at breathing,” Carrabba sings on “Bend & Not Break,” “so that my chest will rise and fall with yours.” A noticeable lack of irony, however, makes for a rather soggy and earnest affair and threatens to turn Carrabba into the Moby of emo-rock. Should we expect Eminem to start taking shots at Dashboard Confessional’s pin-up boy at this year’s VMAs? One can only hope.
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