The Used – Heartwork [Album Review]
Review : Benjamin Coe
Prolific alt-rock heavyweights The Used are poised to return with their 8th studio full length Heartwork, the much-anticipated follow up to 2017’s return to form, The Canyon. With a back catalogue that stretches the gamut from emo-tinged pop punk all the way to hard rock, these boys are never ones to disappoint and this latest effort is no different.
Starting out strong with a catchy AF riff from newcomer guitarist Joey Bradford, the band bust into Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton with an energy reminiscent of their early days. Frontman Bert McCracken is in fine form singing his way through the infectious tune before it crashes headfirst into heavy-hitting first single Blow Me, which features a rather aggressive guest appearance from The Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler.
The pace lets up slightly for groovy number BIG WANNA BE, with the band taking somewhat of a backseat and McCracken stepping into the spotlight to show just why he’s outlasted many of the other frontmen from the early 2000’s alternative rock scene. His vocals are amazing throughout the entire album but here they really stand out and shine above the solid musicianship that backs him up.
Being the first album recorded with new the new guitarist, Bradford really fits into the mold beautifully. Whether it’s on heavy-hitting tracks such as Blow Me and The Lottery or some of the softer tunes like Obvious Biase, or even a combination of all of the above like standout number Wow, I Hate This Song, he definitely cements his position in the band and it really feels like he’s been there the whole time.
The brief intermission of My Cocoon paves the way for the electronic stylings of Cathedral Bell which you would think sounds rather out of place on a rock record but it plants its heels firmly in the dirt and makes its presence known with yet another outstanding vocal performance from McCrackenand rolls out the welcome mat for another electro ditty Clean Cut Heals.
Tracks like 1984 (Infinite Jest) and Gravity’s Rainbow bring back some of the dark majesty of the bands 2007 album Lies For The Liars and make for some serious nostalgia-inducing listening experiences. In fact the whole album seems to be the best parts of all of The Used’s first three releases brought together to form an entirely different entity, one with gnarled fangs and an ominous growl hidden behind a cute smile and puppy-dog eyes.
From the contagiously energetic beginning to the short-but-sweet finale of
To Feel Something, The Used, who are finalized by founding bassist Jeph Howard and drummer extraordinaire Dan Whitesides, are firing on all cylinders to the very last note.
At 16 tracks long Heartwork is quite an ambitious outing for the band but there’s not a single second spent listening to the album where you’re not either banging your head or fighting the urge to get up and dance around the room. A lot of hard work has obviously gone into this and it is an amazing album. It’s equal parts fun & bouncy and equal parts angstyand aggressive. A fine addition to an already immaculate repertoire of work from one of the scenes longest lasting bands.
‘Heartwork’ is out everywhere April 24th Pre-Order and Pre-Save now at https://theused.ffm.to/heartwork