The Used
Heartwork


2.0
poor

Review

by cloakanddagger USER (14 Reviews)
April 23rd, 2020 | 103 replies


Release Date: 04/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An overproduced, inconsistent mess of an album that runs on for way too long.

The last few years have not been harmonious for Utah post-hardcore veterans The Used. After parting ways with their founding guitarist Quinn Allman, they recruited ex-Saosin guitarist Justin Shekoski, although Justin would also part ways with the band shortly after. Both of these departures have not been pleasant or amicable ones, with Quinn threatening to sue the band and Justin having a particularly emotional response to his departure after he was removed from the band’s promotional photos. However, amidst this drama the band released The Canyon which, for better or worse, was one of the best albums of their career. Despite a very long runtime and sub-par production, it was a very creative and engaging album, and most fans held it in high regard alongside the band’s 2002 self-titled record and Artwork, perhaps The Used’s most underrated album.

On their eighth record Heartwork, The Used have yet again got a new guitarist, so there is once again the question of what musical direction the band will take with a new member on board. The album certainly starts off promising; the opening track 'Paradise Lost', a poem by John Milton, is a fairly mid-tier rocker, and following song 'Blow Me' is one of the heaviest songs The Used has put out in a long time, with guest vocalist Jason Aalon Butler providing some nice screams that are a welcome addition for any long-time fan of The Used. The guitar work here is also worthy of praise, with the riff work on 'Blow Me' being on par with some of the band’s strongest works.

Following song 'Big Wanna Be' is a fairly steady song, and not as chaotic as the first two songs, however it highlights perhaps the most glaring problem with Heartwork. The production on here is handled by John Feldman, who has worked with The Used on all of their albums except for Artwork and The Canyon, and whilst the album itself is produced fairly well, the vocals here are so overproduced it’s almost sickly-sweet. Frontman Bert McCracken is a very capable singer who, despite having suffered with vocal nodules in the past, can still put in a very good vocal performance, but on Heartwork his vocals are far too overproduced and this becomes particularly apparent on the softer, more steady songs on this album. Thankfully the album picks up again on following tracks 'Bloody Nose' and 'Wow, I Hate This Song', even if the latter has a ridiculous title and lyrics that can generously be called questionable, even by this band’s standards.
The middle section of the album is, unfortunately, an enormous let-down. 'My Cocoon' is only a minute long, but it’s completely unnecessary filler that is almost immediately forgettable, and 'Cathedral Bell' sounds more like a Bert McCracken solo song, with more overproduced vocals. Thankfully the rest of the band comes back on '1984 (Infinite Jest)' and 'Gravity’s Rainbow', but the former song is still fairly boring instrumentally, with more questionable lyrics harkening back to the politically motivated 'Imaginary Enemy'; Whilst the sentiment on this song is good, the delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, 'Gravity’s Rainbow' is a huge improvement, with huge chords, a bit of a symphonic rock edge and plenty of sing-along moments, as well as perhaps the most emotive vocal performance on the whole album. Where the middle section of the record is at its absolute worst is unfortunately right after this, with the next three songs once again sounding more like Bert McCracken solo songs at best and throwaway filler at worst. 'Clean Cut Heals' is an absolutely gross fusion of funk, pop and trap which sounds hideous combined with Bert’s whiny vocal performance, and this is unfortunately not much different on 'The Lighthouse'. The lyrics on these songs are once again not good at all; The Used have always been known for fairly immature lyrics, but even they can do much better than this.

The good news is that for the final four tracks, the whole band plays on every song, although unfortunately these songs are, for the most part, fairly average to decent. The one exception to this rule is 'The Lottery' featuring Caleb Shomo. Like 'Blow Me', this is a very heavy track with ferocious screams courtesy of the feature singer, and an absolutely punishing breakdown which will certainly get pits moving. It’s a relief that the latter portion of the album redeems itself a bit after the largely disappointing middle section, but given the fact that Heartwork is 16 tracks long, it’s hard not to think that it could have been made a bit shorter.

After such a creative high with The Canyon, it’s a shame to see The Used return with an album such as this. Whilst Heartwork has some promising moments, as well as some of the heaviest songs they have ever released, the record is way too overproduced and most of the material is either forgettable or offensively bad. There are about 5 or 6 songs here that could have either been saved for a McCracken solo album or just left out entirely and leaving these out would make Heartwork a more consistent and enjoyable listen, and unfortunately the inclusion of this material and the subsequent inconsistency in the quality on this album stops it from being even a passable effort in The Used discography.



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user ratings (98)
2.8
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
cloakanddagger
April 23rd 2020


423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I did this review for the site I usually write reviews for but since it's been a while since I've put a review on sput, I thought I'd post it here as well. Link to my original review is here: https://www.noizze.co.uk/single-post/2020/04/20/The-Used---Heartwork-Album-Review

Biggest disappointment of the year so far.



Cormano
April 23rd 2020


2488 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

MODS MODS MODS MODS MODS

Junkered
April 24th 2020


14 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Got through the first half of the album. Not sure if I even wanna hear the other half.

Green Baron
April 24th 2020


25137 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Good god this is dismal. Still not as bad as Imaginary Enemy

Muppelope
April 25th 2020


1950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Idk, I think it's... Fine. Parts are good. Cut half the songs and you have an easy 3.5.

onionbubs
April 25th 2020


12783 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yea but you still gotta cut half the songs. torn between a 3 and a 2.5 bc theres parts of this that i do really like but also like a couple godawful stretches of songs here

Digging: Architects - Ruin

deathschool
April 25th 2020


27107 Comments


The Used taking a page from Green Day’s playbook by reusing the heart artwork from their most popular album

Digging: Madvillain - Madvillainy

Muppelope
April 25th 2020


1950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I do feel that onion, like, I feel like this album is getting unfairly maligned because I just put all the best cuts on a playlist, but then I go back and listen to the whole thing and I totally get it. I think I'll keep it at a 3 though.

veninblazer
April 25th 2020


11757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is such an inconsistent album but it's got some high highs.

onionbubs
April 25th 2020


12783 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yea i think i like more here than i dont but some of this is so SO garbage. i like paradise lost but for the most part its real hard to sit through until cathedral bell, and the lighthouse's chorus is painful. some really great cuts here tho i love obvious blase and gravitys rainbow

cloakanddagger
April 25th 2020


423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

The album does have some legitimately good songs but as far as I'm concerned, the few good songs on here don't justify the duds or downright stinkers, nor do they justify the running time.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2020


44500 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Obvious Blase is fucking fantastic

Digging: Black Country, New Road - For the first time

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2020


31489 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Obvious Blase is a bop ye

Digging: Fushitsusha - Live I

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2020


44500 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I can't really argue any of the points in this review, album is a mess and horrifically tracklisted, feels like they picked songs by throwing darts at a piece of paper. that being said it has four of the hardest jams of the year so far and I can't bring myself to rate it lower lol

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2020


31489 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

which 4? Gravity's Rainbow was shockingly great tbh, did not have high hopes after how badly they meme'd every other literary title up to that point

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2020


44500 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Gravity's Rainbow is just great, hope they use more strings in future; Obvious Blase ofc; Cathedral Bell (I know it's a ripoff of Bad Guy but I don't even fuckin care it rules) and Clean Cut Heals (I cannot believe they made this song and I like it, but goddamnit the chorus and that bass are irresistible)



it does kinda balance out cos Blow Me, I Hate This Song and The Lighthouse are possibly the three worst tracks of the year

Muppelope
April 25th 2020


1950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lol Blow Me is one of my favorites

EvoHavok
April 25th 2020


7852 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This really is a mess. I dig the penultimate track.

Pikazilla
April 25th 2020


14197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Cathedral Bell is so, so bad

stasar
April 25th 2020


165 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

after paradise lost, it basically goes downhill :/



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