Twenty years after their 2000 debut, beloved emo act Dashboard Confessional issued a greatest-hits collection, Best Ones of the Best Ones. Taking its name from lyrics on "Stolen," the 20-song set culls tracks from their seven studio albums, a pair of EPs, and an endearing MTV Unplugged performance, providing a perfect snapshot of the band's career and an ideal place to start for any budding fan of Chris Carrabba's earnest, angsty style. When they emerged in the early 2000s, Dashboard's songs were derided by non-fans as overly sensitive and whiny, the pinnacle of the emo wave that soon splintered apart as the scene's fans veered toward both hardcore and indie sounds. Yet at the time of its release in 2020, the songs on this compilation remain relevant and relatable in their simplicity and focus on heartbreak and undying devotion. Their 2001 sophomore effort, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, receives the most representation here, with a full quarter of the album's runtime taken by fan favorites like the title track and their most recognizable song, "Screaming Infidelities." 2006's Dusk and Summer, their highest-charting effort, gets four nods, including a pair of singles ("Don't Wait" and "Stolen") that were their only songs to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Other notable inclusions come from their 2003-2004 mainstream peak with "Hands Down" from A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar and big rock hit "Vindicated" (originally from 2004's Spider-Man 2 soundtrack and later included on Dusk and Summer). Their late era albums -- including their only LP released in the 2010s, 2018's robust Crooked Shadows -- are acknowledged with a handful of selections, but, for the most part, the spotlight remains on the first half of the 2000s, their most definitive period. Two decades after Carrabba first strummed Dashboard to life with just his voice and a guitar, human emotions remain messy and hearts continue to break. Best Ones of the Best Ones makes the strongest case for just crowning Dashboard Confessional the kings of 2000s emo.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung