When The Used announced they were working on a follow-up to Artwork my interest was peaked a little bit, but my faith in this band really faded after that failure of an album was released. After they released first single I Come Alive off of their soon to be released album titled Vulnerable, my faith faded a little bit more - I Come Alive was a poor choice for a first single whether or not it was released to intentionally fuck with people and make them think they failed again, I don’t know. Now that I’ve had a chance to actually hear the rest of the album and take it all in, my verdict is this album shits all over Artwork in every way. While it is very much a continuation of the Artwork sound, it’s a much better, more tolerable, more refined continuation.
Lets face it, The Used had a lot to lose on this album. Dropping off of their label major Warner Bro’s after some issues of control over the bands sound and identity, they started their own label called Anger Music Group to release Vulnerable under. Being the first release for their newly created label, it’s make and break for both the band and the label.
Surprisingly there are some really great tracks on this album, in-fact some of the best material they’ve written since their self-titled or In Love and Death. There is a lot to like on this album; track Put Me Out has a highly infectious chorus “I’m like a cancer still you beg me to stay, put me out like a cigarette” these are the catchy and emotive lyrics the guys used to be renowned for creating, the type of lyric writings that other bands that have come and gone from the still-remembered early 2000’s emo genre craze used to try and parody. Vocalist Bert McCracken is finally screaming at full-capacity again, lets face it Bert’s singing voice isn’t varied enough to carry a whole album (as unique as it is), the screams break things up and drive the emotive point of The Used’s music home.
But wait, there’s more. The guys this time around have also ventured into the electronic realm, first single and track on the album I Come Alive has a prominent dub-step influence, Hands And Faces also starts off with a dubstep sounding bass sample but not long before the song breaks into the typical guitar driven used formula, the electronics make a return at the midpoint and then towards the end. Shine is another heavily electronic influenced track, but much like Hands And Faces, the electronics are tastefully used and aren’t tacky like you’d expect them to be.
Now That You’re Dead is easily one of the best tracks on the album, sounding like something they would have written for Lies For The Liars only with the rage of their self-titled all the way back from 2002. Bert is on-point and angry in this song, well more pissed off than he is angry. The song starts off brutal and by the time you reach the bass driven snare-roll bridge it explodes with more energy than an atom bomb. This is The Used that we all know and love, back better than ever with some of their most aggressive and catchy material ever.
For a band that had nearly exhausted all chances of redeeming themselves & lost a substantial chunk of their fan-base in the process, they’ve made an amazing comeback and spat in the face of the non-believers (including me) who thought The Used were dead and gone. Welcome back boys.
Rating: 9 out of 10.