We are in the throes of the “emo revival,” apparently. It’s a term that’s applied both to newer bands embodying the ethos of the genre—heartfelt, with punk roots—and to the wave of 2000s nostalgia among Millennials. This nostalgia has led to emo-themed dance nights around the U.S., new music, and tours from bands like Brand New, The Starting Line, and Mae.
But in the early 2000s, as emo broke into the mainstream, the “icon,” the “breakout star,” the “poster boy” of the genre was Chris Carrabba, with his band Dashboard Confessional. Though the emo label got applied to many different kinds of music—clever pop punk, angsty hardcore, proto-indie acoustic—somehow Carrabba and his strummy eager singalongs became the symbol of the genre. As the critic Andy Greenwald put it in his book Nothing Feels Good: “Love for Dashboard Confessional spread across the country in 2001 and 2002 like mono in the ’50s: an intimate interaction between mouthy teenagers.”
On Friday, Dashboard Confessional released their first album in almost nine years, Crooked Shadows. The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and Caroline Mimbs Nyce discuss the band’s revival, and how it compares to Carrabba’s classic sound.
Julie Beck: There’s something so refreshing and soothing about a Dashboard Confessional song. Turning on one of their old albums feels to me like putting aloe on a sunburn. It’s partly nostalgia, I know, but there really is something special about the lack of artifice, the wholehearted commitment to a feeling that Carrabba gives his songs. He keeps his lyrics simple and honest for the most part, never hiding behind a smokescreen of cool, but he knows just the right details and turns of phrase to use to bring a moment to life, to make the specific feel universal. There’s a reason Dashboard Confessional concerts were famously singalongs—the songs felt like a shared experience.