The Used
Vulnerable


2.0
poor

Review

by sharksanddanger USER (7 Reviews)
May 19th, 2012 | 37 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Used appear to have run out of steam.

I truly believe Vulnerable’s title is a reference to their audience. You see, the Used’s fifth album came as a complete and total shock to those who’ve been following the band. For those who haven’t, I’ll provide a recap. The Used were one of the cornerstones of the screamo wave that rose up during the 2000’s. They released an abrasive self-titled debut in 2002 that showcased an ability to bring pop sensibilities to aggressive post-hardcore. Then, in 2004, they inspired Warped Tour attending teens everywhere to tattoo hearts hanging from trees on themselves (this reviewer included) with their more polished sophomore album, In Love And Death. In 2007, they released Lies For The Liars which had the band exploring a wide array of studio experimentation and seemed to foreshadow a future in which the Used got caught up with frivolous arrangements and forgot the vitriol that once possessed their songs. However, the Used were perfectly content to prove the naysayers wrong and in 2009, they released their most stripped down and arguably best album. Artwork has been described as gross pop by the band and I think this is perfectly apt; it captures the twisted nature of the songs as well as their simplicity. It seemed the Used had matured past gimmicks and gotten to the core of what made them great in the first place, an amalgamation of aggressiveness and catchiness. By the end of 2011, the Used had also cut off their major label connections by leaving Reprise Records and starting their own imprint, Anger Music Group, on independent label Hopeless Records. The stage seemed set for the Used to release a violent, dark record the major labels would have never approved of.
Vulnerable is not that violent, dark record. Vulnerable is not even an attempt at making that record. No, instead of moving forward with gross pop, the Used seemed to have taken a step back and made the sequel to their third album, Lies For The Liars. It’s almost as if the Used that made Artwork were from an alternate dimension and only entered ours to give us one glimpse of the Used that could be, after all, it’s their only release to not feature John Feldmann producing. Despite its similar one word title, Vulnerable carries nothing of its predecessors traits.
Vulnerable has the nauseating air of a band struggling to stay relevant, desperately incorporating all the elements the kids are really into these days. Instead of focusing on what makes them sound good, they’ve focused on what makes other artists sound good. This seems to be the reason for the opening track, I Come Alive, which sounds like it was written after someone locked the Used up with nothing but the latest Skrillex release for a couple days. Hands and Faces suffers from this as well, but gains points for the soft atmospheric bridge that almost redeems it.
There are a few bright spots on the album and the brightest of them is Now That You’re Dead, where WiL Francis of Aiden and William Control joins the Used for a hardcore infused romp that also features a creepy opening reminiscent of [i]The Best Of Me[ /i]. In fact, the more aggressive tracks are mostly safe from meddling and serve as the highlights of the album. But, even these breaths of fresh air seem stale, as though the Used are just running through the motions. As though they’re just throwing in a heavy one for the head-bangers and mosh pit lovers. Compare Sound Effects And Overdramatics off their second album to this album’s Put Me Out; on the former when Bert howls “Kill! Smile! Cut it out for me this time!” you want to scream with him, on the latter when he yells “You put me out like a cigarette”, you just want to ask what the *** he’s talking about.
Though “you put me out like a cigarette” is far from the only ridiculous line on Vulernable. Nearly every track features either clichés of the highly overdone variety or lines that sound like the ramblings of someone who showed up to record vocals but forgot the real lyrics. Singer Bert McCracken has always worn his heart on his sleeve and sung honestly about the variety of doubts that cloud his mind, but here it seems as though he’s run out of ammo and relying on tropes and nonsense.
Maybe the Used are just a band that work best when in pain. Their self-titled was their salvation from homelessness, their sophomore album came after the death of McCracken’s pregnant ex-girlfriend, and Artwork was produced during a period of great stress from their label and McCracken has said he was incredibly depressed during that time. Whatever the reason, it’s obvious the Used have nothing important to say with Vulnerable. However, I can’t even begin to speculate what the future holds for Bert McCracken, Quinn Allman, Jeph Howard, and Dan Whitesides. I still hold hope for them, Artwork proves that they can still be relevant, but I don’t know if they’ll move past gimmickry and into something greater. I sure hope so.



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user ratings (245)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
EvoHavok (3.5)
Blending new elements with older ones, The Used create once again an enjoyable record....


Comments:Add a Comment 
johnnydeking29
May 19th 2012


9561 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is great, but I see where you're coming from with this
However, "I Come Alive, which sounds like it was written after someone locked the Used up with nothing but the latest Skrillex" cmon, it only has dub in it for about 30 secs, aside from that, it's just a typical Used song

Digging: Blueneck - King Nine

sharksanddanger
May 19th 2012


18 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I can't stand dubstep in the middle of rock songs. No one has been able to play it off as anything more than indulging the latest fad. The album might make it up to 3 for me if my friends like it and play it a lot around me, but it definitely doesn't have the staying power of In Love And Death or Artwork. It really just sounds like they're bored to me. Wouldn't be surprised if they break up soon.

Storm In A Teacup
May 19th 2012


13228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album answered a lot of questions about the band that I had wondered and I've come to respect them now more than I ever did (or would have thought possible). Review is not very good, but you're just starting out so that's okay. A lot of this is opinionated and not enough detail into what is the album. No dub-step on this either.

johnnydeking29
May 19th 2012


9561 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, a break-up wouldn't surprise me, they're hardly reinventing themselves with this, but This Fire, Shine and Hurt No-one are pretty damn good, not gonna lie
Were you not a fan before, Storm?

Storm In A Teacup
May 19th 2012


13228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've always been a fan, but I questioned their motives and could never tell what they were making music for up until finally this album and I realize they definitely do it for themselves and don't care about image/sales even though I don't like how they talk about their albums before release sometimes. Such as with Artwork, or Liars, but in the end it is just music and they're pretty good at never making the same album twice and that's respectable.

johnnydeking29
May 19th 2012


9561 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, there's always a difference between albums, maybe not so much with this one, but there are less weak songs here so what's not to love

Storm In A Teacup
May 19th 2012


13228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not much of anything bad on here really, it just needs more time to grow on me and I'll eventually bump to either 3.5 or 4.

Scoot
May 19th 2012


17914 Comments


gross

Digging: Renounced - The Melancholy We Ache

johnnydeking29
May 19th 2012


9561 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It didn't really grow on me; I got swept away by the catchy songs, and then some of them started growing off me (Give Me Love, Getting Over You)

sharksanddanger
May 19th 2012


18 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I thought this album was more about sales than any of their previous releases, it's certainly one of their most accessible ones. Very upbeat and almost radio friendly. Especially compared to the gloominess of Artwork.

Storm In A Teacup
May 19th 2012


13228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nah you don't see it working particularly cuz they keep going back and forth, they were in a position with Artwork to begin pulling a 'Papa Roach' but then they started trying to evolve their Liars sound with this instead. Liars is my least favorite album by them so I'm glad to get an improved version of that. (Debut and Artwork are faves with debut getting the edge)

And I know what he means when he says 'put me out like a cigarette' it's not even that hard to grasp. ;)

Mordecai.
May 19th 2012


8282 Comments


I thought this album was more about sales than any of their previous releases


I'm pretty sure The Used and anyone who has any basic knowledge in music retail would know that this CD wouldn't sell as well as their earlier records. Ya know, because the internet is fast now.

sharksanddanger
May 19th 2012


18 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I didn't say they thought it would sell more than earlier records, I said it was more focused on selling than their previous records. There's a difference.

Storm In A Teacup
May 19th 2012


13228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His comment stands and works to respond to you either way you mean it.

Mordecai.
May 19th 2012


8282 Comments


^^^

thankyou.

It's pretty obvious by now that they are writing for themselves, not for record sales.

johnnydeking29
May 19th 2012


9561 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, songs like Now That You're Dead are hardly sales material

AtavanHalen
May 19th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

PARAGRAPHS ARE YOUR FRIEND

ThroneOfAgony
May 19th 2012


3485 Comments


orly

macadoolahicky
May 19th 2012


1835 Comments


Nice jumbo-paragraph

bakkermaarten007
May 19th 2012


3687 Comments


"The Used were one of the cornerstones of the screamo wave that rose up during the 2000’s."
Lol wut?



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