Having never been exposed to ‘The Used’ (TU) and their music, I approached them without prejudice. The sinister Terry Gilliam-esque artwork for the new LP is worthy of comparison to the stunning images often seen in ‘Tool’, ‘Aphex Twin’, ‘U.N.K.L.E’ and maybe even ‘Primus’ videos. Reassuringly accompanied by lyrics and a parental advisory warning logo, the splendid packaging alone makes you want to give the LP a listen. You know, I think I will!
An aural assault unfolds from the start. And I like it! Some superb mixing and well placed CD skipping effects serve as a hint toward the ambitious dynamics of the LP and its creators. As I begin to perhaps pettily worry about some predictable percussion work, I’m reassured by ‘The Bird and the Worm’, the first single to be released from this LP, back in March. It just seems to crank it up a notch, leaving any qualms far behind, before going from strength to strength through power ballads, misfortune fuelled rock outs and upbeat songs that strive to soar. And just when you start to think the sounds are getting a bit homogenous, clever bursts of solo instrumentation or clever mixing desk skills charge to the rescue. I can’t speak with any authority about any earlier releases from TU, but to me, this LP is so well produced and crafted that I can’t imagine any previous releases from TU being a patch on this. And if they are, then hot damn they’re real good!
The new single, ‘Liar Liar (Burn in Hell)’, surprises for two reasons. Offensive lyrical content and schoolyard prose. The former to combat the latter I suspect. And though it does just that, I personally struggle to tolerate songs that hone in on already familiar tunes to make the track work. And whoever’s being sang about, I’m sure he doesn’t really do that to his mother! Closing with an anti climatic love song, this LP cries out to both you and the repeat button, demanding to be heard like a toy toting, tantrum throwing tot! And what’s this?! There’s a secret track slung effortlessly onto the end. Why? I don’t know do I! Seems to me like a waste of time. Waiting 86seconds for 36 seconds of a track dedicated to a case of beer. Outrageous! Everybody knows that Americans can’t drink beer. Although those Utah boys sure can go some at that there moonshine!