The Used
Artwork


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
August 25th, 2009 | 209 replies | 40,433 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Used make some adjustments in their sound and end up with an album that will require a few listens to really sink in.

The guys in The Used have accomplished quite a bit, and have a lot they can be proud of. Over the course of their career they’ve written a number of great songs and released a collection of diverse albums. This diversity, coupled with a great live show, helped their albums achieve gold and even platinum status and allowed them to headline around the globe. Despite these accomplishments, though, the one thing the band hadn’t pulled off was an album that didn’t contain any filler – although Lies for the Liars came close. It turns out that they just needed one more attempt in order to finally reach that goal because Artwork consists entirely of great songs and it is, again, slightly different than previous albums.

Moving forward from Lies for the Liars, the band made a conscious effort to scale back the studio tricks and return to the guitar-dominated direction of their debut. In doing so, the songs on Artwork take on a more streamlined feel due to the lack of jolting transitions that were often created by the electronic elements. It’s not only the lack of jarring transitional elements that cause the songs to feel more streamlined, it’s also the band’s increased focus on crafting memorable songs. In order to adhere to the band’s pop direction, the songs don’t feature many raging screams or aggressive moments and also aren’t prone to random changes in direction. This focus on making every song very listener friendly may cause initial disappointment among longtime fans but the screams, creative songwriting, and the band’s quirky personality are still intact – albeit in a subtler capacity.

Subtlety has never been a huge part of The Used’s sound, but it is an integral part of this album. A lot of the creative songwriting elements, edgy screams, and peculiar melodies are layered beneath the main vocal and guitar parts which make the songs a little less instant than fans might be used to. That statement isn’t meant to imply that these elements aren’t also found at the forefront of certain songs, but they’re definitely not as prominent as they used to be. This emphasis on strong hooks combined with a subtle musical backing may lead to an initial conclusion that the album is lacking emotion or energy, but those should only be temporary judgments. Additional listens will lead to an increased familiarity with the album’s nuances, which should eventually cause any negative opinions to change. Besides, there is plenty to enjoy on this album, even on the first listen.

For those hoping to hear the post hardcore sounds of the band’s debut there is the opener, “Blood on My Hands” and “The Best of Me” which feature the most prominent screams and aggressive guitar playing. For those looking for the lighter pop of In Love and Death there are the instant hooks of “Watered Down” and the power ballad “Kissing You Goodbye”. There’s also plenty of Lies for the Liars’ experimentation in songs such as “Empty With You” and “Come Undone”. The thing is that although these songs take some influence from the different albums, they don’t sound like they’re merely rehashes of those releases. Again, the big difference is the “maturity” found in the writing and the slick, refined feel of the songs themselves. These songs don’t have any extraneous parts, awkward sections or filler – instead they’re streamlined and crafted to make every moment count.

It’s a strong possibility that a lot of hardcore fans are going to have problems dealing with the restraint that is exercised on this album. It’s possible that they’re going to be upset that the band’s more dissonant moments have been (mostly) moved to a supporting role. It’s also a definite possibility that those same people are going to lament the streamlined sound that the band uses on this album. All of these things are possible, but none of them should be considered permanent problems. The Used have taken the best elements of their previous releases, refined them and delivered the strongest album of their career – an album that displays a subtle maturity in their songwriting that requires more than a single passive listen to fully grasp. The strong choruses are there to draw the listener in, but beneath that is a layer of musical complexity that will lend this album a longevity that should keep people coming back for more.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
August 25th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So, it probably leaked weeks ago but the band finally decided to stream it on their Myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/theused

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Zip
August 25th 2009



5313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bout fuckin' time they streamed it I've had this for almost a month!

Zip
August 25th 2009



5313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review by the way, I agree totally and completely. Those that gave this a low rating ought to give a few more spins it's a real grower.

scyther
August 25th 2009



1606 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Mad crappy bands releasing good albums this year.

Groink
August 25th 2009



761 Comments


From what I've heard so far, this sounds pretty good.

Willie
Moderator
August 25th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mad crappy bands releasing good albums this year.
I don't know why, but that made me laugh.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 25th 2009



10193 Comments


top review, very interested in checking this out despite not having heard a full album from these guys previously

Romulus
August 25th 2009



8372 Comments


Blood On My Hands is actually so insanely catchy. I'm not sure if I'll check this out but I was surprised at how quickly that song stuck when I first heard it.

Jesuslaves
August 25th 2009



4572 Comments


Excellent review is excellent. I've heard Blood On My Hands and can't say that I'm very interested in this.

Cesar
August 25th 2009



2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ace review, agree completly. Album dissapointed me at first listen, but now I can't stop playing it. People need to listen to this at least twice.

Zip
August 25th 2009



5313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That seems to be the general problem here. Nobody gives this a second chance, hell I almost didn't.

jingledeath
August 25th 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ugh I guess I need to listen to it a few more times to see if it clicks

fireaboveicebelow
August 25th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

well...at least it's better than Lies

Cesar
August 25th 2009



2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

If you gave it a 1 or 1.5 at first listen giving it a second chance will probably be a waste of time, but for those who are in 2.5, 3, maybe even 2 should definetly give it at least one more try. Chances are you'll find it to be at least a little better the second time around and might want to keep on trying it.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 25th 2009



10193 Comments


also is it just me or is the actual artwork for this great

Willie
Moderator
August 25th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's pretty cool. I don't know if I like it or not, though. Their past covers just had a different artsy vibe to them.

Tits McGee
August 25th 2009



1876 Comments


artwork makes me cringe tbh. I hate needles.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 25th 2009



10193 Comments


me 2 after saw 2

SowingSeason
Emeritus
August 25th 2009



14511 Comments


I love the mentioned guitar-heavy sound, especially in the first track. I don't think this will take much time to win me over.

Willie
Moderator
August 25th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, that song is probably the most similar to their previous material. The album is definitely good, though.



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