Music Notes: Dashboard Confessional, Swiss Army Romance

August 15, 2006

Tanja received a box of promo CDs from a record label, so I think it will be fun for me to post my aging, Gen X thoughts about this “new music.”

This dude has something to say, he’s a pretty good guitar player, but it’s also obvious he listens to a limited style of music (Blink 182?) and probably should be playing electric guitar with a band behind him. When a song features little more than acoustic guitar and vocals, it places an inordinate amount of weight on the lyrics, and Dashboard Confessional doesn’t quite seem up to the task. There are some real groaners of lines here, cliches like “chips fall where they may” and lots of love and leaving and missing and over and half-baked analogies. A thesaurus and a chainsaw would be in order.

However on certain songs the naivete actually help things, such as the college freshman ode Swiss Army Romance concerning fresh students inventing histories for themselves to cover insecurities. It returns you to the place of trying to look confident and cool although you’re scared as hell – hoping the girl you’re trying to bang won’t find out what a loser you were in high school before the room-mate wakes up.

Another annoyance on this album is the notable lack of range, both vocal and instrumental. Mr. Dashboard seems intent on barreling down the highway not varying much over or under 50 miles per hour. So things are pretty much in your face until the songs Shirts and Gloves and Hold On. It’s a relief and telling that the slight pauses in his guitar playing make such a difference in improving the quality of these songs.

So while I’m not really into this album, I think it’s perfectly suited for the late teenage, pre-twenty market it’s aimed for. It captures that awkward time when love and emotion is so profound, your possessions fit in a closet, the weight of responsibility and the world hasn’t hit you yet, but you think you can change it for the better. This music kind of like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or “The Bell Jar”. You don’t really want to experience the early twenties again, but you can appreciate and recognize the honest, sincere emotions you felt.

iTunes Store Link: The Swiss Army Romance – Dashboard Confessional


  1. David says:

    Its ok, swiss army is their first full length album. You got to start somewhere. Most bands first album is a little raw, like MCR with bullets.