The Used

Heartwork

Written by: PP on 06/02/2021 00:30:43

The Used can be roughly divided into two eras soundwise. The first one is their emo/screamo origins of "The Used" and "In Love And Death" from 2002 and 2004, respectively. Then the band went into theatrical, dramatic soundscapes already on "Lies For The Liars" three years later and pretty much stayed there for the next decade or so. But lately, the band has adopted an approach that feels like "fuck it, time to do what we want" that applies both to the experimental double album "The Canyon" and also the eighth full-length album, "Heartwork".

Let's start with the obvious. There are numerous tracks on "Heartwork" that will throw off pretty much everyone who hasn't been paying attention to The Used since "Imaginary Enemy". The old emo/screamo platform has been all but abandoned on tracks like "The Lighthouse" (featuring Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 fame), which is effectively a disco-beat style sing-along anthem, the pop interlude "My Cocoon" that allows Bert McCracken to use his full vocal range, or "Cathedral Bell" that also goes for a more electronic, beat-based approach. Let alone "Clean Cut Heels" which is hard-pressed to even qualify as a rock song to be perfectly honest.

Mixed in are throwbacks to their origins. "Blow Me", which features Jason Butler of Letlive and Fever 333 fame, is basically quiet/loud dynamics echoing their early work, and "Wow, I Hate This Song" is about as quintessentially emo done The Used way as it comes: raw and blatant, direct and unashamed of its pure emo lyricism. Eighteen years later, these are still the best moments of The Used and it is still a well-known wish amongst older fans that one day, Bert will magically cure his broken chords and scream like "Maybe Memories" once again.

"1984 (Infinite Jest)" is probably the best example of the experimental approach of this record. It references "Imaginary Enemy" lyrically, yet the song is a playful, at times operatic, at times manic experimentation of influence from their origins, then combined with more theatrical stuff, and finishing off with something unique for The Used, an almost industrial atmosphere.

What remains then is an overall opinion of "Heartwork". It is experimental, different, and daring for a The Used album. It feels almost genre-agnostic in the sense of how varied the songs on it are, and as a result, feels less like a career-extension than a heartfelt statement: this is what we want to do on each song. As a result, it's about as far from a sell-out, mainstream trash record as you can get, despite its grandiose tendencies in terms of its soundscape. It is theatrical, dramatic, yet distinctly emo and close to their roots of the first two albums at times. That said, it's no guarantee for a great album, and although "Heartwork" has its great (the mostly loud and aggressive) moments, overall it lacks longevity and reasons to go back to it.

7

Download: "Blow Me"; "Wow, I Hate This Song"; "Paradise Lost"; "1984 (Infinite Jest)"
For the fans of: D.R.U.G.S, My Chemical Romance, Chiodos, Escape The Fate,
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.04.2020
Big Noise / Hassle

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