We gave it a C+
It’s disconcerting that after four albums, emo’s dewy poster boy, Chris Carrabba (a.k.a. Dashboard Confessional), now 32, is still agape at the Medusa-like proportions of the women in his life, and beholden to the dimensions of his navel. The Shade of Poison Trees, Carrabba’s purported back-to-his-roots album (”redeem-o,” anyone?), offers little evidence that he’s matured along with his audience.
Poison Trees strikes bold notes with the acoustic-busker feel of Carrabba’s first two albums, and songs like ”Fever Dreams” and ”Little Bombs” peak in ecstatic ripples of harmony. But it also seems like Carrabba is still fighting the same demons, while attempts to artistically shake things up by emulating his peers — borrowing from Kanye West on ”Where There’s Gold…” (”Where there’s gold/There’s a golddigger”) and swiping a guitar refrain from U2 on ”The Rush” — could be perceived as callow. At times, you feel like a lab rat, pressing the same pedal again and again to tap Carrabba’s overflowing emotional basket. C+
DOWNLOAD THIS: Hear a clip of ”Fever Dreams” at Barnes & Noble.com