The Used’s new album a dark success

Screamo favorites, The Used, announce their new album “Artwork,” which they described as the album they have looked forward to the most since their first release in 2002. Alternative Press Magazine described it as the “definitive album of their career.”

The band made many changes with this album, including working with a new producer, Matt Squire, known for his work with pop-rock bands such as Boys Like Girls and The Maine. It is no surprise that this album can only be referred to as “gross pop” by front man Bert McCracken.

The band hyped up fans by informing them that this album would be gritty and noisy, close to their roots, and reminiscent of their first album. Instead, The Used decided to take a more pop approach with very little of the high-pitched screaming that McCracken is known for. However, the album is sure to draw in new listeners since this is arguably their most mainstream release to date.

This is also drummer Dan Whitesides’s debut with the band after touring with them on Kevin Lyman’s 2008 “Get a Life” tour. Whitesides, a drummer from the indie rock scene, replaced former drummer Brandon Steineckert, who left the band due to personal differences.

“Blood On My Hands,” the first single, opens the album with The Used’s typically loud and hard style, which easily makes it one of the most likeable on the album. It begins raw and brutally enticing and alters with a catchy sing-along chorus.

The album shifts with the second song entitled “Empty With You,” which has a more light-hearted and poppy feel. With a catchy chorus and easily-relatable lyrics about wanting to fill a void with a loved one, this song is definitely one of the most ear-pleasing on the album.

Perhaps the most unique song from the album, and anything The Used has ever done, is “Kissing You Goodbye,” which is about dying and leaving a lover behind. It is a softer song, undeniably unusual to The Used’s style, full of emotion with McCracken’s voice accompanied only by a piano. Half-way through, the song takes an unexpected turn with a guitar solo by Quinn Allman. Since it is so different from their other songs, this it takes a few listens to appreciate it but in the end, it is definitely one of the favorites on the album.

“Men Are All the Same” is a pretty bland and boring song that they chose to save until the end of the album. It begins brutal with the promise of a pick-up, but listeners are let down when each verse and chorus sound identical to each other. In fact, one of the only good parts of this song is the flashback to “Kissing You Goodbye” towards the end of the song, but other than that this song isn’t too impressive.

The concept of mortality is constant as the eerie-sounding song “Meant to Die” tells the story of someone who had an accidental death, possibly from an overdose, and never got to say goodbye to his loved ones. Before he came to terms with death and how easy it is to die, McCracken led a reckless life filled with addictions to drugs such as crystal meth and drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels a day.

McCracken stated the main theme of the album as “coming to grips with how much you really hate yourself and knowing you can never hate yourself to the full extent, so you’re free to hate yourself as much as you want to.” This theme is a never-ending currant that is present in a majority of the songs, especially in “Sold My Soul” in which McCracken describes the horrible things he has done as a “a disease [that is] slowly spreading.”

The controversial and arguably offensive song “On the Cross” talks about skepticism in religious beliefs while McCracken tells listeners to “Give me a chance up on the cross and watch me bleed/ Now ask for help.” Although this song strikes controversy, for fans of The Used, it should really come to no surprise especially after the band released a t-shirt last year with an image of McCracken as Jesus.

With “Artwork” being as diverse as it is with skillfully written lyrics and strong themes, The Used has definitely been given gifts of talent and they are sharing it with the world. The album is out today and fans can stream “Artwork” in a virtual, 24-hour listening party on the band’s Twitter page. Visit for more information.

Although some may feel slightly disappointed with the difference in sound, it shows off the amount of growth, talent and diversity this band truly possesses.

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