The Used – Vulnerable: Album Review

Published - - Posted in Reviews

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.

  • BTD

    I’m sorry, but Artwork was in no way a failure, compare it to the bloated pop sound in Lies For The Liars and you’ll find it was a step in the right direction.

    Vulnerable’s okay, nothing special though/

    • KillHipsters

      That’s fine man, thanks for commenting. I know some people liked Artwork, I thought it was one of their worse albums ever created. Lies For Liars was catchy and not nearly as whiny as Artwork was, but music taste is subjective so one mans trash is another mans treasure, right? It’s kind of funny how things go, you liked Artwork, I didn’t. You don’t really like this album and I think it’s one of the best albums they’ve released in a long time.

      I appreciate you taking the time to throw in your two cents and keeping it tasteful!

    • Enrique

      There were some REALLY weird moments in Lies For The Liars.. I didn’t like it that much.. and Vulnerable its so fresh and remind me of In Love And Death which is my favorite album of The Used!

  • James Malan

    Well written review. I’ve been listening to the album while reading. This will be a redemption album…old fans will pick it up and new fans will be introduced. Unfortunately, I just don’t like the sound that The Used produces anymore. It’s a shame that this album can’t tap into my nostalgia root.

  • Michael Costa

    I have been with the Used since day one, and I love ARTWORK. I also wish SHALLOW BELIEVER was released as an official album rather than an album of B-sides. Doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

    Not sure why all the hate for ARTWORK, there are tunes on there that are killer. But after reading critic reviews to each his own, but to those new to the band it’s a solid release, as are all of them. DO start with the debut album though! Classic!!!!

  • jULIA.bEE

    im in the same boat, I didn’t hate Artwork..I felt like the change that they tried to make in “lies for liars” was too much, too quick and I wasn’t a fan of it- at all. However, I stuck with em and “Artwork” gave me some hope they were gettin it back together. I rly like “vulnerable” and I feel like it sounds like what “artwork” was supposed to. Their first two albums will always be my fav…maybe bc of the time they came out, the memories associated with em..idk. I couldn’t agree more with the post about this new one not tapping into the nostalgia of their earlier stuff…music evolves and bands have to change to keep it..some grow in good ways and keep on and some stagger and fall off. I have to hand it to The Used- they try new things, whether or not it’s popular at the time. Unfortunately, I think the earlier stuff from them is long gone 🙁 and not just from them, but from the bands that started emerging the same time as them…

  • Used fan.

    I AM throwing virtual eggs at you right now.