September 19, 2002

Test Spin: The Used

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Emo is suddenly getting edgier. The Used are among a growing number of angst-ridden, up-and-coming bands that aren’t afraid to articulate their confused feelings by wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Their self-titled debut is filled with energetic, passionate musings on love lost, substance abuse, and genuine alienation; all of which sounds like it wants to punch you in the face one minute and cry on your shoulder the next.

Charismatic lead singer Bert McCracken flips from a pretty, emotive delivery to a blood-curdling snarl at the tip of a hat on the album. Musically, the band backs up McCracken’s varied vocal delivery with shrieking metal (“A Box Full of Sharp Objects”), radio-friendly pop/punk (“The Taste of Ink”), and weeping orchestrated balladry (“On My Own”). All three styles are masterfully blended together in “Poetic Tragedy,” a poignant tale of a suicidal scribe that’s sung in the third person.

The Used’s mix of appealing melodies, harsh guitars, and honest, down-to-earth sentiments provide for an excellent form of emotional catharsis.

Archived article by Brett Rosenthal