Emo hero Chris Carrabba spends most of Dashboard Confessional’s sixth album singing about his sister’s recovery from a coma following an accident, a real-life backstory that gives his songs more emotional heft than usual. The music behind him has a freshly surging energy too, thanks in part to co-producers Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) and Butch Walker, two power-pop mavens who know how to pile on the chunky guitar and synth riffs. At its best, Alter the Ending becomes a record about misery that’s actually fun to listen to. For purists who object to such mixed messaging, there’s always the deluxe edition’s all-acoustic bonus disc. B-

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