As you might gather from the title of Dashboard Confessional's fourth album, Christopher Carrabba still wears his heart on his sleeve -- or, more accurately, tattooed on his forearm. A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar
continues the punk-inspired singer-songwriter's streak of obsessive-compulsive musings on relationships and how to wreck them. He's still apt to strum out unguarded acoustic plaints like "Ghost of a Good Thing," but this time around, Carrabba ratchets things up a little in terms of sonic intensity. While not exactly pedal-to-the-metal in tenor, tracks such as the fretful "Am I Missing" and "Hands Down" (an adrenalized version of a tune he released on the So Impossible
EP some years back) rumble along at a fairly energetic clip. Carrabba verges on alt-country territory on the doe-eyed "Carve Your Heart Out Yourself" -- a tune guaranteed to elicit the devout sing-alongs so prevalent at Dashboard gigs -- and really lets his hair down on the six-minute "Several Ways to Die Trying," a song that's as perfect a collage of Carrabba's scars as he's ever likely to display.