After their eight-year album hiatus, the Floridian emo-rock band Dashboard Confessional are back with a new album, Crooked Shadows.  Consisting of nine new songs, this album is a clear deviation from the band’s previous work.  And while it definitely doesn’t come near The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most or A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, it doesn’t fall completely flat either.

The opening track, “We Fight,” is clearly the anthem of the album. It starts off with Chris Carrabba’s soft, husky voice that made your heart melt in middle school, then continues with a message to the outcasts, speaking to the people out there who still need their voices heard.  This song is a good start to the album, and it’s followed up with “Catch You” and “About Us,” two easy to listen to, catchy pop-rock songs with simple lyrics.

The middle track, “Belong,” feels completely out of place and unlike anything Dashboard has ever done.  Featuring the music group Cash Cash, the track is just one long repetitive loop that’s really more annoying than it is catchy.  It sounds exactly like something you’d hear on the radio, so it’s safe to say that this song could easily become the hit of the album.

The final three songs bring back a slightly familiar Dashboard sound, lifting the album back up a bit.  Nothing really sticks out though, and the final track, “Just What to Say” ft. Chrissy Costanza, brings the album to an extremely slow end with a song reminiscent of the band’s acoustic days.

Although the album holds some highlights, it lacks cohesion.  It sounds like the band had a few songs written and decided to put them all on an album to keep their tours going.  Especially given its length (less than 30 minutes of music), Dashboard might have done better if they had released this as an EP of a few songs from the album.

So if you’re looking for a Carrabba fix, this album won’t satiate the desire for the sound of the band’s first few albums; you’re better off listening to your old Dashboard CDs.  But if you liked the band’s sound on Alter the Ending, you might like this one, too.  Crooked Shadows is an album full of songs you’d hear on the radio, be able to sing along to, but probably never listen to again once the next like-sounding pop-rock song comes on.  All that being said, Dashboard Confessional will forever be a nostalgic band, and despite this sub-par album, they’re worth a listen.