Reflecting On: Dashboard Confessional – Dusk and Summer

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Dusk and Summer has always felt like an out of place title in the midst of Dashboard Confessional’s discography. Replacing the melancholy of earlier records and the spectacle of “Dashboard goes electric”, Dusk and Summer is a glamorized summer album, specifically tailored to be listened to as a soundtrack on the beach. The guitars are softer, laying the groundwork for songs soaking themselves in love and sunshine. Dusk and Summer is the Dashboard record that I cherry pick the most when listening to these days, but remains the album that feels the most like the summer of 2006 to me 10 years later.

Having followed Dashboard Confessional for years before the release of this album, the only release between this album and 2003’s seminal A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar was the song “Vindicated” from the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, a rock song that seemed to be following the band’s transition from from acoustic emo to sovereign rock band. It retained the sound of slower guitars that focused the crunch of punk and the melody of pop punk while Chris Carrabba pushed his vocals to soaring heights.

“Don’t Wait”, the first single off of Dusk and Summer was a softer ballad. The crisp snap of acoustic guitar, the aura of electric guitar and drums playing for rhythm rather than leading the song let me down on some level. It wasn’t the sound of a band testing their ability to refine their newly discovered rock sound, it was a band writing easier songs. It was a band delving into being in love instead of the prose that seemed to define their earlier career.

Songs like “Reason to Believe” or “Rooftops and Invitations” seemed more in line with what I had expected, but even then I saw them more as alt-rock radio songs than anything else.

That said, I listened to Dusk and Summer the entire season while on vacation between college semesters. I found love for the first time and never gave credit to this album for being my soundtrack for late night drives and hot summer days scouring creek beds. It spun on repeat, interrupting AFI’s “Miss Murder” and my long-awaited triple-disc album from The Early November.

Where Dusk and Summer shines is the innocence of its message. Chris Carrabba romanticized the feeling and memories of first love. It’s almost a concept album in execution, as it perfectly encapsulates the lust and obsession of feeling like the most special thing in the world to someone else and seeing them as the same. It also executes the realization that though a relationship may end, it doesn’t make those memories or emotions any less real.

During the title track, as he sings, “And she pulled you in / And she bit your lip and she made you hers / She looked deep into you as you lay together / Quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer / But you’ve already lost”, I can see myself, eyes-glazed, wondering how an emotion could be so powerful.

“Stolen” sees Chris sing, “I watch you spin in your highest heels / You are the best one of the best ones / And we all look like we feel / You have stolen my heart”. The grace of the lyrics, the sweet croons of violin and the gentle build-up of guitar swell the song to become one of the great love songs of the era.

One of the main themes of Dusk and Summer is letting down your guard for the experiences of love. “Don’t Wait”, the opening track, repeatedly begs amidst its chorus for the listener “to lay your armor down”. Conversely, possibly one of the most underappreciated songs on the album, “Slow Decay”, shows the consequences of doing so that doesn’t have a happy ending. What could be a conversation between a father and a son suffering from PTSD, coming home from the battlefield is also a lesson from father to son about coping with a fresh, failed relationship and the terrifying loneliness that accompanies it as you try to find normalcy again. For someone who hasn’t experienced it before, it can be devastating.

“You look so strong in that picture on the mantle you sent your mom when you were gone / But you look scared now, hollow eyed / When are you coming, when are you coming back to where you belong? / I swear that it’s safe here, there’s nothing to fear at all / Come on back to where you belong / The pressure releases if you just let down your guard”.

Dusk and Summer might emote the feelings of love and let-down that accompany relationships far better than the most heartfelt emo that has been praised for the that exact reason. Though I still have a tough time claiming it amongs my favorite Dashboard Confessional albums, the record means more to me every time I listen to it. While there are a dozen other albums that I would rate more important to me that came out in 2006, or even just during the summer of that year, Dusk and Summer might be the most memorable.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and literally just realized how lovely this album is while listening to it tonight. What an ass. If you see him, pelt him with shards of glass for waiting 10 years to appreciate Dusk and Summer.

Reflecting on: The Get Up Kids – Guilt Show

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Throughout 2014, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

I’ve always considered The Get Up Kids’ Guilt Show as a kind of black sheep to their discography, and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the last full release from the band before their hiatus, or the fact that I was nervously nearing the end of high school as it came out.

Regardless of the reason why, 10 years on Guilt Show feels more like the bridge necessary to connect the band from 1999’s legendary Something To Write Home About with the sonic, indie fuzz rock of There Are Rules. It is the definite finale to the ‘classic’ Get Up Kids.

Let’s not kid ourselves; On A Wire is a good album. As the follow up album to STWHA though, it was kind of a letdown. The slow, softer tones of the album fell to the opposite side of the spectrum from the highly energized pop punk of their earlier works and caused a rift in the fan base at the time. Guilt Show wasn’t necessarily a return to the sound of their earlier work, but an aggressive extension of it.

Where STWHA was a punk heavy emo record and On A Wire was a subdued acoustical extension of that, Guilt Show was a pop heavy album that felt almost out of place. It was too poppy. I’ve always felt that the title Guilt Show reflected on the pressure to return to the frantic rock that the band was known for instead of experimenting further (like they did for There Are Rules).

Because of that, the album attacked relentlessly with heavy pop songs and frighteningly catchy choruses, as though the band were trying to shove the frantic rock sound down the throats of anyone disappointed with the previous album.

The first few times I listened to it, it felt like the album was constantly at odds against itself. Despite Guilt Show’s warm and upbeat music, the lyrical themes are rather dark.

The song “The One You Want” reflects over a failed relationship years in, where the couple in constant battle and realizing that it’s too late to be with anyone else. “Never Be Alone” starts with the incredibly wounding lines describing divorce, “Never love anyone else / A promise you made to yourself / There’s a box with his ring on the shelf / And it’s tarnished”.

At the time, I felt rather uneasy about it being the final album that The Get Up Kids put out. I enjoyed it, and most of the songs on it are still in my regular music rotation today, but it just never felt right. Looking back on it now, it’s easier to see where the album actually falls: as the bridge to connect their early work to their later, as the reward for anyone upset over On A Wire and the energy building towards There Are Rules.

Guilt Show shouldn’t be remembered as a definitive sound for The Get Up Kids, but as one of the reasons we fell in love with them originally: fast pop songs layered over dark and honest lyrics. Where it sits in anyone’s personal appeal is their own, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

While Guilt Show shouldn’t be remembered as the definitive Get Up Kids sound, it’s an important record that ties together all of the differing writing styles and genres explored in the band’s ‘classic’ era. It’s a reaction to a scene that becomes too attached to one specific style and unwilling to allow a band to explore other directions while retaining the scorn and bleeding heart anthems that made the band famous to begin with.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.