The Used - Heartwork
Longevity is quite possibly the most difficult thing to pull off in Music. You have to change with the times while still maintaining that thing that makes you special. It's a balance that almost all artists falter on at some point during their career and The Used are no exception. From their breakout album in 2002, right in the heart of the wave of emo bands about to burst on the scene musical tastes have changed vastly. You would expect then for The Used to hope that the faithful will still be there and just give them more of the same. However this new album Heartwork is not that. This record changes what we expect from The Used and maybe changes what they expect from themselves. This album is far and away one of their best produced. The layered sounds and textured vocals tend to give Bert's screaming vocals a more contemporary feel rather than just a 38 year old screaming his lungs out. Where sheer aggression and angst were their weapons of choice in the past this album feels more refined, more of a slow burn message rather than blunt force trauma. There is still plenty of screaming and moments to pump your fists too, but in between there are also some solid melodies and interesting song structures. Their lyrics still feel drenched in emotion, pinning for a better experience in all of this. "Wow, I Hate This Song" sort of captures the vibe of the album perfectly, that idea of hating something because it reminds you of someone you once loved is such a visceral human emotion. If it wasn't for The Used's blaring guitars and Bert's background screams the song could almost be considered sweet, but they still manage to squeeze in more than a little uneasiness in all their music.
This album is also intentionally very operatic. The Used blend in the religious themes as they always have done, but here it feels more, dare I say dramatic? There is so much more intrigue and mystery surrounding these songs, like around every corner you may just find something you never expected. Caleb Shomo of Beartooth and Attack Attack! shows up on "The Lottery" and is a reminder why Bert's scream is so much better than the rest of the people who do it. At 16 tracks the album is, and feels long. You probably could loose three of four of these tracks and you wouldn't particularly miss them yet the impact would be the same. I like this record, and I like a lot of the songs here. This feels like a comfortable step in the right direction for The Used, and the right direction of a music scene seemingly pretty hungry for some emo. Time will tell if we can call this a comeback, but I think we might just.
7.8 out of 10