On “Carve Your Heart Out Yourself,” a man promises his skeptical girlfriend, “I will stay where you are always.” Restoring a romance to its glory days means focusing on current issues, not simply chasing the “Ghost of a Good Thing.” A worthy man must be loving and reliable according to “Hey Girl” and “As Lovers Go.” “Seven Ways to Die Trying” helps listeners empathize with “invisible” people who are frustrated that society has left them lonely and without a voice. A melancholy woman with unreliable friends gets blunt advice from a caring guy who sees through her superficial smile (“So Beautiful”).
“Hands Down” finds a couple cherishing the privacy of their sexual encounter—yet sharing snapshots of it with listeners. A waterfront gab session may involve alcohol on “Carry This Picture.” Physical intimacy trumps talking through conflict on “Bend and Not Break.”
Lead singer Chris Carrabba is the straw that stirs this occasionally punk-flavored drink. He is the disc’s omniscient narrator, keenly aware of what everyone else is thinking, feeling and needing. For the most part, he dispenses harmless advice. “Hands Down” is a letdown, but otherwise the trouble spots are minor.