The Used
The Canyon


4.2
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
October 29th, 2017 | 181 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: is it worth it, can you even hear me?

Both halves of The Canyon begin with words unaccompanied by music. The first disc, a glimpse into Robert McCracken's mind-frame in the wake of his friend's death, an uncomfortably human and humanistic moment; the second a biting piece of George Orwell's satire. There couldn't be more of a difference between the two, yet they provide an easy anchor point, a stylistic choice to link the more personal, intimate first disc with the second's socio-political concerns. (They also feel like a callback to the band's older days – "I'm A Fake" specifically). For about 40 minutes we follow as Robert retraces the days and feelings before and after Traegan's suicide, the facts and possibilities and regrets; in the band's first, and possibly last, genuinely bone-chilling moment he wonders "what did it take, to trigger the end" I could have been there." Robert's evocation of setting is exquisite, snapshots of the minuscule details which overwhelm your field of vision in a moment like this – a bass guitar, an empty truck, and oh yeah, a loaded gun. "I stood with you through How It Feels To Be Something On, Tom played my favourite song", and it's the kind of uncomfortably personal moment that makes you feel like you've heard something that should have stayed private. But there's nothing held back on this album, no quiet moment or memory untouched in the fevered search for one thing, anything to fucking make meaning from all this.

The second disc, then, is not a recovery or a revelation, but a reappraisal. The echoes of the death ripple out further and further, as they do, touching on political climates and tensions and Greek tragedies; a powerful reminder of how the feeling of a loss taints literally every aspect of your life. In place of a linear narrative we have a "reflective parabola", just a fancy way of saying that we reach the climax in the middle – "Upper Falls" and "The Divine Absence", two absolute career best songs for the band detailing the actual suicide – while the beginning and end spread outwards to the edges of the narrative. The story of The Canyon is that of an entire life and all the lives it ever touched, the moments both big and small shared between people cut tragically short. It would take the span of a universe to do justice to a thing like that. I'm amazed The Used fit it into 80 tiny minutes.

But fuck all that, because this is an album about grief, a death, and no amount of carefully-chosen analytical words can look anything but small next to that. (No matter how much I'm really itching to talk about the idiosyncrasies that make this record great, both brilliant and bewildering – that rap verse or that banjo breakdown). Nah, The Canyon terrifies me, its raw edges unprecedented and cutting, its very existence from a band firmly entrenched in my childhood hard to reconcile. It's like a very old friend sitting down with you to explain why the universe is meaningless, like a beloved childhood toy suddenly showing up to take you through the salient points of entropy. What makes it unique from other death-obsessed albums of late – which, yeah, there have been a fair few – is an utter refusal to process or justify anything. "The Mouth of the Canyon" almost tricks you into believing some epic catharsis will make sense of it, quantify or qualify the death into something easily digestible, narratively satisfying. But it doesn't leave us anywhere at all except where we began. To its credit, The Canyon has already reached its climactic realisation in the very first song. In the very first minute, in fact, as Robert eulogises Traegan and explains with unimaginable courage the entire heart of the record, its reason to exist – "every single song I ever sing is for you". And every song from there on is simply a variation on that theme, a figure spinning in a circle looking outwards but never shifting from the spot, exploring the emotional, the physical, even the political ramifications of the death. There's no big narrative needed, because all of The Canyon exists in that second after the crushing wave hits when you're rooted to the spot, and know that a part of you will be there forever. An album which simply allows itself to be washed over, and take it all in. To simply be. In a time when even being must hurt like hell, that's one hell of a gift to give to the world.



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user ratings (81)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
onionbubs
October 29th 2017


6793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

guess i have to listen to this then

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 29th 2017


39403 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I would encourage it - you'll either love this or despise it judging by the reactions I've seen, but either way you'll feel something visceral towards it

Digging: The Used - The Canyon

onionbubs
October 29th 2017


6793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

5 tracks in and its leaning more towards the former

EvoHavok
October 29th 2017


7238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great read. I didn't expect to enjoy this as much after their previous effort.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 29th 2017


25033 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

wait this is actually good? what I heard of it so far sounded horrid...

Digging: Brand New - Science Fiction

bloc
October 29th 2017


44266 Comments


God damn a 4.2? Either you are being too generous or I gotta check this

Digging: Beastmilk - Climax

onionbubs
October 29th 2017


6793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is definitely their best since self titled woah

AsleepInTheBack
October 29th 2017


5106 Comments


goddamn Row you've got me curious. thought I was done with this band.

onionbubs
October 29th 2017


6793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

same this surprised me a lot

PostMesmeric
October 29th 2017


702 Comments


I'm seeing a lot of reviews saying this is actually incredible. I'm anxious to hear it myself.

Feather
October 29th 2017


3945 Comments


Well I'm interested now, great review. Definitely would have taken a pass on this if it weren't for this review.

BillClinton
October 29th 2017


156 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Absolutely adore this album. Can't decide if best since Artwork or best since In Love and Death but it's up there and that's pleasing after a few sub-par releases.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 29th 2017


22699 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love your conversational writing style Rowan, never change



Their debut holds a special place in my heart, need to spend more time with this one

Digging: Langhorne Slim - Lost At Last, Vol 1

SnakeDelilah
October 29th 2017


19928 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

you'll cowards are smoking crack

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

Advent
October 29th 2017


82 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Rowan.



With regards to the lyricism, song structure and general sound of it all, this is a very mature album, and definitely makes up for the weak, middling release of Imaginary Enemy. This is the next step that The Used should have taken in their career years ago.



I just really like the whole progressive feel to it too. The soundscape that they construct makes me feel like I'm isolated in a canyon, and with each song is a new vignette that appears as I travel through its many trails, caves and crevasses.



I'll definitely need to spin this a few more times. There's a ton to digest here over these 17 tracks.

Digging: The Used - The Canyon

SnakeDelilah
October 29th 2017


19928 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

With regards to the lyricism, song structure and general sound of it all, this is a very mature album




the opening track is literally the most over-dramatic and forced thing ever what kind of crack have you been smoking

SnakeDelilah
October 29th 2017


19928 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I just really like the whole progressive feel to it too. The soundscape that they construct makes me feel like I'm isolated in a canyon, and with each song is a new vignette that appears as I travel through its many trails, caves and crevasses.




calm tf down this is a used album not a dream theater album or some shit

theNateman
October 29th 2017


3122 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

My first response to this was absolute revulsion. Maybe I was too hasty?

Digging: The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions

FreddieDelaney31
October 29th 2017


3331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Think this album is pretty amazing, didn't know it had such a personal narrative, will definitely need to read along with the lyrics next time I listen

Glad to see you're enjoying this so much Row!

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

tcat84
October 29th 2017


1141 Comments


This is definitely better than the previous two albums... but not a masterpiece.

Going for an epic concept album almost, and would have been better if trimmed down.




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