I figured it out.
I realized why I listen to Dashboard Confessional.
See, I acquired their 2006 release, Dusk and Summer the other weekend. I'd forgotten just how much I missed Chris Carrabba's plaintive wailing of the scribblings you might find on a hormone-addled 8th-grader's notebook.
It's so melodramatic, so delightfully over-the-top, so incredibly cliched that I just... can't... stop listening to it. Over and over. Musically and lyrically, something new pops up every listen to grab my attention and tickle my funny bone.
"Reason To Believe" is a great example. Check out the opening lines, sung in a piercing moan: "Oh sweet lungs don't fail me now / Your burning has turned into fear / Drills me in my every step, I'm moving quick but you're always on my heels"
Wow. All that just 33 seconds in. Then there's this delightful chorus: "Breathe, don't you want to breathe / I know that you are strong enough to handle what I need / My capillaries scream, there's nothing left to feed on / My body needs a reason to cross that line / Will you carry me there one more time?"
Seriously, I think this entire song is about his cardiovascular system. It's innovative, but who the hell is gonna buy that to put in a commercial? Low-fat margarine? Asthma inhaler? Yes, asthma inhaler. That will work.
The theme continues on the next track, "The Secret's In The Telling". "Your name is pounding through my veins / Can't you hear how it is sung? / and I can taste you in my mouth / before the words escape my lungs". I'm beginning to suspect this album was written in study hall right after biology.
The hits keep on coming. Adam Duritz from Counting Crows comes by to warble a few lines in "So Long, So Long". "Stolen" features the eloquent chorus "You have stolen my heart". "Slow Decay" is (for no apparent reason) about a wounded soldier home from the war. And top everything off, the final song "Heaven Here" causes Bach to turn over in his grave and bend his tuning fork thanks to breaking several basic rules of harmony. (Parallel movement between open fifths is WRONG, shitheel! You fail at music theory! And would it kill you to use a standard-tuned guitar once a year?)
Overall it adds up to a musical and lyrical equivalent of not just a car wreck, but a ten car pileup featuring nothing but 1993 Honda Civics with rear window decals and black bumper stickers bought at Hot Topic. It's painful and hilarious at once, maddening and hysterical, enough to make you want to lobotomize yourself with crochet hooks while cackling insanely at how literally Carrabba has managed to use the word "heart" for the 98th time in this album.
For these wholly ironic reasons, I will keep this album on my computer forever, right next to all their other full-length releases and EPs on my hard drive. And also on CD to listen to in my car and at work. For irony.