Review Summary: An extremely enjoyable listen for what many would call the wrong reasons.
Sophomore releases find many band's in an interesting place, as debuts receive what must seem like a god awful amount of criticism and/or praise. In Love and Death
see's The Used pulling out the emotional stops, melding vocal aggression with a sense of loss to create a listening experience the band has never been able to recreate. Looking back it might seem like something quite juvenile, but it's hard to deny the slightly dark catchiness of such an endeavor.
Opening on a hard note, “Take It Away” instantly sets the tone of the album. With it's tasteful use of opening samples and the foreboding click of a shotgun being pumped it serves as a high octane introduction to the rather bipolar album. The repeated lines take my hand/take my life/take it away
might initially turn some listeners off, and if such is the case it's highly unlikely that they would have enjoyed the remainder of the album as the group holds no qualms in regards to repeated, simple lyrics.
“Take It Away” “I Caught Fire” and “Let It Bleed” rarely turn down the tempo, the three combining into an interesting mix of angst, loss, death, and deranged laughing. While not initially apparent on subsequent listens these could be compared to the initial emotional response of many a teenager; anger. When viewed in this regard the slow semi-acoustic tendencies of “All That I've Got” are similar to that of an emotional breakdown, draining the anger and letting the feeling of loss be seen.
This mix of highs and lows is seen often, as some tracks bludgeon the audience with screams (“Sound Effects and Overdramatics”), others with driving guitars (“Listening”), while still others prove that the band is far from infallible vocally (“Cut Up Angels”). The tracks are arranged in an order that recalls the act of a harsh break up, with uplifting moments hitting right after the seemingly lowest of lows. In Love and Death
does a remarkable job of maintaining an overall sound that is not too much pop, nor too much [insert tag]-hardcore; it's just distinctly The Used.
Out of all this the simple honesty of “Lunacy Fringe” helps the track stands tall. With no screaming and not a single upper range wail to be seen the decidedly catchy swing of the track is hard to ignore. Featuring some of the more honest and therefor relatable lyrics, “Lunacy Fringe” plays with the emotions of feeling lost, worthless, stepped on, yet slightly hopeful that love is possible again; I'm so far gone now/I've been running on empty/I'm so far gone now/do you want to take me on"
remains an extremely real sentiment, no matter how childish it may seem on paper, and makes the song a highlight of the album.
When the final exclamation of fake!!!
slowly dies the world The Used crafted shatters and reality rushes in. In Love and Death
is an extremely enjoyable listen for what many would call the wrong reasons, but this shouldn't hold any newcomer back from it's emotional ride. Many other artists have tried to pull the same emotional card, but it seems shallow when compared to the rather more detrimental and permanent loss of a loved one and child. While not quite perfect In Love and Death
is something that, if heard at the right time, can become an instant favorite.