When Dashboard Confessional toured with U2 last year, it was great exposure, and also a possible act of industrial espionage. The effects of such surveillance are abundant on their fourth studio CD, Dusk and Summer, where the band sheds the last remnants of their early acousticism for big, anthemic arena rock. Unlike Bono, Dashboard auteur Chris Carrabba channels his epic urgency into girl-craziness instead of God or global inequity, but the result is almost indistinguishable, set against decidedly Edge-ier riffing. They’ve never sounded so unoriginal.
Or, frankly, better. Carrabba could be insufferable back when the stripped-down settings put too much focus on his ”do me, I’m sensitive” romanticism. He’s still the king of carpe diem as come-on: Several songs invoke summer’s end, as if everyone was at camp, facing some autumnal deadline for getting it on. (”Tonight may be the last chance we’ve been given,” he nags some poor girl.) But now the band is powerful enough to match Carrabba’s grandiosity and lust. Dusk’s hot-blooded, hokey songs might get the better of you this summer, even if you’ll hate yourself in the fall.