A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar, Dashboard Confessional's follow-up to that towering monument to the power of wussiosity, 2001's The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, effectively blends the intimate and the epic in the way we've come to expect. At the least, "Hands Down," the album's leadoff single, will enjoy an accelerating ride on the radio. At the other extreme, A Mark could end up catapulting Carrabba into the permanent firmament.
You know you've made the canon of American pop culture when Rolling Stone commissions an oil-paint caricature of you to lead off its record review section (like the one Cynthia Von Buhler did in the August 21 issue, creating a haloed Carrabba holding his bloody heart against a tattooed sleeve).
In a way, for the devotees of the blossoming heartthrob, watching Carrabba magically transform from singer for a so-so Christian punk band to pied piper of the disenfranchised has felt thrilling. But what remains, after the mass adulation and screaming girls and the MTV treatment and the knighting of all that mushy breakup lyricism, is something like a dull toothache after too many waffle cones. We're already waiting for reruns of the Dashboard Confessional Dating Game or American Emo-Idol.