The Used, Heartwork
Big Noise / Hassle Records
It’s been 20 years since emo legends The Used first graced our lives — and they’re still tugging at our heartstrings. 8th full-length album Heartwork showcases The Used’s iconic lyrical vulnerability, tinged with a sound more mature and unapologetically vicious. It’ll make you dance, desperately long to be in a pit, but, most importantly, it’ll make you feel something.
Opener Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton is absolutely perfect – it’s exactly the sound and lyrical theme one would expect from The Used. A wild, pit-worthy beat, a powerful bassline, and Bert McCracken’s classic, poetic vocals? It’s all there, and it’s delightful. This feeds gorgeously into Blow Me, a track that’s even more vigorous, featuring the brilliant Jason Aalon Butler of FEVER 333. From start to finish, this track is a shot of adrenaline – a true mosh pit anthem.
And, god, do The Used know how to crank out mosh pit worthy bangers. The Lottery – WOAH! … It’s both how the song crashes into your life, as well as the only word on your mind throughout. The track has a life of its own, with booming verses and a glowing, HUGE chorus that enraptures your mind. That violently loud, guttural instrumental breakdown? And Caleb Shomo from Beartooth’s strained vocals screaming ‘the end is fucking now’? Oh my. Following track Darkness Bleeds is another banger, with a brilliant, dark, tech-y tempo that is SO impossibly fun. We can already envision the crowd screaming back ‘I can hear, the silence, hear, hear the silence’…. We need to hear this live. Right. Now.
But these guys don’t need to rely on a speedy tempo to win us over; 1984 (Infinite Jest) and Cathedral Bell are amazing examples of this, both slower tracks but they showcase some of the album’s most impressive soundscapes. Cathedral Bell is eerily immersive, with a dark electronic soundscape that drips down your spine, while 1984 (Infinite Jest) features some Panic! Fever… era instrumentals and a sexy, slow, Muse-y chorus that absolutely OOZES class.
What’s so amazing about this album, however, is the variation of sounds and genre. The Used have really flexed their creative muscles on Heartwork, giving us some absolute gems. Clean Cut Heals initially sounds very Cobra Starship, before morphing into a pulsing beast… before? Is that? A slap bass? Rock meets funk? The Used literally don’t give a fuck about genre, and we love it. You’re guaranteed to be absolutely loving life and singing every word by the time the track comes to an end. This same fun energy is captured on summer-y track The Lighthouse -and, considering Mark Hoppus features, it’s no shock this song feels like a little burst of joy.
The emotional power behind some of these tracks also packs a punch, as we would expect from The Used. McCracken’s spoken word performance on Heartwork is a spit-in-the-face directed at supposed acts of ‘kindness’, while Wow, I Hate This Song replicates the horrible turmoil one experiences when hearing a song with bad memories, with jarring, screaming vocals contrasting with its seemingly light ‘la la la’s. Closing track To Feel Something hammers home a topic explored on BIG WANNA BE, a stripped back performance that morphs into a booming, raw, screaming ball of anger, begging to become something better, to just ‘FEEL SOMETHING’. It shifts from a feeling of hope to one of desperation – an unsettling note to end on, but one that is deeply affecting.
The Used have once again proven why they continue to be so influential. This ambitious quartet are unafraid to tackle any genre or confront any emotion, constantly pushing themselves to mature and grow into something even better than before. The Used are only getting better as the years go by, and they’re not going to stop any time soon.
Heartwork is out tomorrow. Pre-order here.