Review Summary: I'll tell you the name of the game, we call it "Riding the Gravy Train".
Sure, when The Used broke out onto the scene back in 2002, they were a force to be reckoned with; they were able to make up for their hopeless trend-hopping (and subsequently back themselves up as a band) with some absolutely beautiful song-writing; songs like "Noise and Kisses" and "Blue and Yellow" are but examples. 5 years later and Scr/emo begins the eventual decline it was destined to succumb to (much like Nu-metal before it) and almost every band in the genre sound like parodies. So there's one thing you have to give The Used some credit for in their third album; they try to stand out above the rest and shake things up a bit. Sadly, there's a moment when the band become victims of their own intentions, and The Used allowed that to happen to them all too easily with Lies for the Liars
, but it doesn't stop there- they simultaneously became victims of their own success too.
It's pretty loud and clear on the first two tracks of the album; "The Ripper" and "Pretty Handsome Awkward". Both are catchy, fast-paced and have some tasty riffs and choruses, but after awhile, it becomes all too evident that they picked the path that could lead to their eventual musical demise. "The Bird and the Worm" is only notable for its heavy use of strings; but take those away and and the song sounds pretty weak. It's already a pretty weak song with cringe-worthy lyrics and lack of fun riffs. Which sums up most of the album; it's full of hopelessly mainstream crap. "Hospital", "With Me Tonight", and "Wake the Dead" all seem as if they're tailored specifically for radio play; same chords over and over, verse/chrous/verse/chorus song structures and somewhere between 3-4 minutes long; then there's "Liar Liar", which is bar none one of the worst songs I've ever heard in my life. Not only does it sound like Fall Out Boy wrote it, but check out the lyrics:
Liar liar, pants on fire
Liar liar, stop your soul from catching
Fire, fire, god and maker
Any song that uses the words "Liar liar, pants on fire" needs to stay away from my ears, and this isn't even all of the bad lyrics. One of the lines in "Pretty Handsome Awkward" goes something like, "You bleed just like you puke while crossing a line". I'm sorry, WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN? Or this masterpiece from "Paralyzed":
Paralyzed by the same old antics
Back and forth like some walking spastic
How could a fistfight be romantic?
Thinking back now will you ever feel the same?
It thankfully isn't all doom and gloom and disappointment. "Earthquake" is a beautiful power ballad with gorgeous lyrics and lush musical arrangements. Bert sounds amazing on it as well, and "Smother Me" has a nice sound to it that sounds a bit like their first album. But those songs aren't enough to redeem the album. And while I respect that The Used tries to distance themselves from the trend that emo became at the time, sadly they chose a direction that just didn't work. Though, to be fair, at least someone was able to take "The Bird and the Worm", amp it up a bit and use it to make the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans
seem like a badass movie.