Listening to Dashboard Confessional’s The Best Ones of The Best Ones is like a portal back in time. The band, headed by Chris Carrabba, was originally founded in the final year of the last century. And if that makes you feel old, buckle in because it’s gonna be a wild trip down emo lane.
For many people who searched for both their personal and musical identity during the 00s, Dashboard Confessional was like a guiding light. While their angsty music may not have been for everyone, their popularity was solidified by the two universal truths of growing up; life is complicated and none of us know how to do it right. As an adult, this now seems blindly obvious but at the time Dashboard Confessional made that confusion seem ok.
Their audience has grown up and now knows that life is hard and complicated and their new album is a reflection of the journey that they have dragged us on for the past 20 years. Dashboard Confessional has grown up with its listeners but still maintains the same level of weariness and under the skin anger that made a lot of us start listening. Its new album does exactly what it says. It takes the best ones from the best albums to create a compilation album that is as much an old school therapy session as it is a comprehensive history of its influence on emo culture. The tracks are taken from its seven studio albums including it’s MTV Unplugged performance.
Dusk and Summer is arguably Dashboard Confessional’s best album. It’s angsty but measured and showed a real journey and maturity that other albums ignored. Both “Vindicated” and “Stolen” are included in The Best Ones Of The Best Ones. “Vindicated” starts with an unusual county/emo guitar. Carrabba’s trademark vocals strain over blasting guitar lines and a steady drumbeat, solidifying its place in emo culture forever. Keeping with the steady beat “Stolen”, the band’s most successful song to date, may sound angsty but it is like a nostalgic hug making it easier to get through the day.
All this talk about journeys is defunct if I didn’t talk about where Dashboard Confessional came from. The Swiss Army Romance, Dashboard Confessional’s first album was raw and honest and the title track was no different. With just an acoustic guitar and simple lyrics, “The Swiss Army Romance” is the musical starting point from which they jumped and created one of the most recognizable sounds in music.
Dashboard Confessional’s music has always been straight forward, to the point and truthful and this is reflected in the album title. And while we all grow and move on, the band’s decision to release this album is reflection of how far we have all come.