Review Summary: The Used get everything right on their flawless debut.
In today’s music scene, The Used don’t exactly stand out from the pack. They seem to have brief moments of success, only to be forgotten again a few months later. They made a huge impression in 2007 with their successful hit ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward‘, but seem to have lost fans in the transition between their last album Artwork
and their most recent effort Vulnerable
. Neither of these releases are bad, but the band seems to have lost that certain spark they had on their earlier work. They’re one of those bands that unfortunately, will never top their debut. That’s not as bad as it sounds however, as their debut is a flawless effort.
I’m not sure how The Used managed to get everything right on their first album, but they did. Their self titled album has everything a post hardcore fan could want, from the well timed screams to the variety of song structures. Much like Emery and Silverstein, the band is good at mixing the sweet and the sour. Some songs are aggressive such as the frantic opener ‘Maybe Memories’, while others such as ‘On My Own’ are downright beautiful and show off the singing voice of Bert McCracken. In their ten years as a band, he’s never sounded as surreal as on this album. He also transitions between the clean vocals and the screams flawlessly so he doesn’t sound as awkward as most singers of the genre.
Aside from the vocals, the instrumentation is also better than one would expect. ‘Say Days Ago’ is packed with energy and pounding drums, but gets better towards the end with guitars that absolutely shred alongside McCracken’s screams. However, there’s not a bad song on the entire album and each one showcases solid musicianship. The lyrics are also better than their later work and although they’re not amazing, they fit the album perfectly. Some songs are dark and full of angst, while others are surprisingly optimistic. No need to spoil the lyrics, but let’s just say this album contains some of the band’s most honest and sincere lyrical themes.
Whether you’re a big fan of the genre or not is besides the point. The Used
is the album that’s likely to even please those who don’t like the band’s other material. Their later albums seem to have good songs and some even give us a glimpse of their glorious past, but they are weighed down by unnecessary filler and too much experimentation. This is simply not the case on the band’s debut. It knew exactly what it wanted to be and adhered to more of a straight up rock sound. Unfortunately, they will likely never top this gem, but at least we can always go back to it and cross our fingers.