With expressive pieces like “Screaming Infidelities” and “Vindicated,” you can always count on the forlorn, poignant vocals of Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba to get you through the bumpy roads of romance. But their latest album, “Alter the Ending,” steers the band in a new direction that is nothing but boring.
Interestingly enough, the first track is catchy, luring listeners into a false sense of excitement, expecting the rest of the album to be memorable. A deviation from the emo ballads Dashboard is famous for, “Get Me Right” delves into the realm of rock with heavy electric guitars and drums, and pays homage to the band’s Christian faith. However, for reasons unknown, Carrabba emphasizes the last word of the title with a warbling falsetto every 30 seconds, which stops the song from reaching perfection.
The rest of the album passes in a blur. Dashboard makes the mistake of substituting its trademark soft sound with a hard, edgy one. The result is generic tracks with dance-floor-ready instrumentals that overwhelm Carrabba’s gentle, bittersweet vocals.
The lyrics are not impressive either. Though “I Know About You” has a promising beat, the message portrays the lead singer as a sinister stalker. The lackluster “Until Morning” is not much better, as it paints a stereotypical picture of summer love.
Halfway through, there shines “Belle of the Boulevard,” the only flawless track. Released as a single a few weeks earlier, it is reminiscent of Dashboard’s previous work and soothes the listener with its mellow beat, melancholy melody, and of course, Carrabba’s signature vocals.
The main problem with “Alter the Ending” is the rash decision of the band to conform. Dashboard is cherished for their ability to capture the perils of heartbreak in songs that provided pure listening pleasure. But here they’ve amped up the drums, added heavy guitars, and thrown in cheesy lyrics that rival the Jonas Brothers.
Perhaps the band realized this; they released a deluxe edition with acoustic versions of the tracks. This alternate edition has everything the original CD lacks, using minimal instrumentals to keep the spotlight on Carrabba’s earnest, raw voice.
Sadly, the deluxe edition is an afterthought. Apparently the group believes listeners would rather rock out. Sorry to break it to you, guys, but that was a bad move.