Dusk and Summer -- a cohesive album divergent from the modern-rock collection of songs on 2003's A Mark, a Brand, a Mission, a Scar -- finds Dashboard Confessional's path to maturity leading them, weirdly enough, back to their roots. Whether or not this is a reaction to mainstream success, Dashboard is still very much a full band, but the album is gentler and falls much closer to the feeling of The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. Not only does it include more tracks with simpler arrangements that occasionally now include piano and violin, the general sonic vibe resembles more of its earlier work, just more seasoned. Though the lead track and single, "Don't Wait," has one of the most grating choruses on the album -- and the song also owns a weird underlying air of "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer -- the remainder of the suitably titled Dusk and Summer is very much full of satisfying heartfelt anthems that reflect its early evening beach artwork. Chris Carrabba's lyrical touchstone is again dominated by relationships, but that invigorating first date from 2003's "Hands Down" must have really taken off, since broken-heart brooding only appears sparingly. The gentle "Stolen" is a beautifully sincere song where the repeated "You have stolen my heart" is so tenderly spoken, it's like Carrabba is taking care to not wake his sweetheart sleeping beside him. Leaving one's hometown is delicately reflected upon in the piano-tinged "So Long, So Long," where Counting Crows' Adam Duritz provides wonderful guest vocals, while the band proves it can rock out in tracks like "Reason to Believe" and "Rooftops and Invitations." And damn if "Slow Decay" isn't the dirtiest, darkest song Dashboard Confessional has written to date ("Heaven Here" might have been a contender with its trashy percussion, but the song quickly goes soft and remains a muddled mess that never quite gets worked out). Dashboard Confessional may have been embraced by the masses with the über-success of Spider-Man 2's "Vindicated," but Dusk and Summer doesn't care about that. It's an album from a matured Carrabba (now in his early thirties) directly to his grassroots fan base. He may have grown beyond six-strings and a wooden stool, but when the result is this good, who can really complain?
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar