October 7, 2004

Test Spin: The Used

Print More

In one of the most anticipated albums this year, The Used’s Bert McCracken proves that he can still belt out a throat-shredding scream. Unfortunately, it’s not enough for the band to hold on to its “screamo” title as In Love and Death, the band’s sophomore release, drifts from the harder, angrier sounds the band used to make a name for itself and more towards slower, sometimes poppier ones with a few remnants from their first release.

The opening track and lead single, “Take it Away,” starts off with high hopes as it incorporates crunching, fast-paced guitar riffs, gang vocals, and scattered screaming. Along with “Take it Away,” “Let it Bleed,” “Listening,” and the Thursday-ish “Sound Effects and Overdramatics” sound like they could’ve come off The Used’s first album. But if you’re not into a healthy dose of softer love songs (“Yesterday’s Feelings” and the bouncy “Lunacy Fringe”) and more pop-oriented ones (“Cut Up Angels,” “Hard to Say”), then the second half of the album won’t do the first any justice. Actually, “Lunacy Fringe” and “Hard to Say” — which sounds like something middle school kids slow-dance to — could’ve been cut entirely. Despite the fact that the band toned it down a little, most of the songs do incorporate some elements of loud, distorted guitars and hardcore screams. The album’s harder songs are good — rife with death imagery and physical pain — and their softer ones are expectedly emo. Ultimately, though, the mix is just too disjointed. Deciding not to build on the elements that made them a success, The Used instead tries to appeal to too large an audience. In Love and Death has some gems, and if you’re into a more subdued screamo album, this is definitely for you.

Archived article by Andrew Gioia
Red Letter Daze Contributor