This is a really good album, and any dashboard fans shouldn't even need to think twice about buying it, such is the high quality of the material on offer here. "Don't Wait", "So Long, So Long" and "Dusk and Summer" are standout tracks - the former sounding more like Further Seems Forever (Carrabba's earlier band) and the latter moving back towards the earlier Dashboard album.
The problem is, for me at least, the appeal of Dashboard comes in the acoustic and raw emotion of his songs. Albums like the Swiss Army Romance and Places You Have Come to Fear... are uniquely catchy but theres also a certain genuinity in their simplicity. Dusk and Summer is a great album, superior to A Mark, A Mission.. but I can't help feeling that Carrabba has made the mistake of over-producing his work and including too many elements when just an acoustic guitar would have done the job.
However, this gripe is unlikely to bother newer fans of Dashboard, and this is a great album to start with. It is upbeat, sing-along emo-rock at its best with great lyrics and Carrabba's typically strong and emotionally wraught vocals. The opener is still the best track for me, but the album is consistent in its quality and while it may not be as appealing to some as Carrabba's earlier, more acoustic work, it still manages to avoid most of the mainstream pitfalls that make many bands sound indifferent.
Here's hoping Carrabba can build on the success and popularity of his origins, his age when asked to perform on MTV unplugged shows that this is where his real audience lies, but that aside, this is a very enjoyable record and will hopefully bring Dashboard Confessional the limelight that they deserve.