CDs: The Used - In Love And Death
By Chuck G
For those of us that hate it when our "boutique"
band reaches "strip mall" acceptance, The Used could quite possibly be
the perfect entity.
Leaders of the pack in the punk/screamo
platform, Bert McKracken and the boys start on overdrive and crank it up
a couple of notches from there. "In Love And Death" is particularly ambitious
as it strives for mainstream inclusion, but like a drug addict spinning
back into foolhardy ways, the Used rely old habits that work against their
And I love it.
Case in point, Bert's vocals. For those
unfamiliar in the ways of The Used, Bert uses his performance like bait
in a bear trap...easing the listener in, slowly.... slowly... slowly...
with his high-pitched effort. Suddenly, the steel jaws of death snap shut
and Bert explodes into a Hindenburg of hysterics...Oh the humanity.
"In Love and Death" opens with the first
single/video, "Take It Away," a musical shotgun blast with Bert begging,
"...take my hand, take my life" sets the tone for a hills-and-valley experience
with plenty of peaks.
Clocking in 2nd is "I Caught Fire," a beautifully-written
love song of sorts for those with Attention Deficit Disorder. Lyrically,
The Used edge toward extremes to paint their audio pictures.
"In Your Eyes,
Like My First Time,
That I Caught Fire..."
Truly a love song, "I Caught Fire" is sonically-pleasing
with it's chip-choppy lead intro and (eyebrow fully raised) arena rock
chorus. A true pleasure of a song in this genre.
The Used show maturity and musical diversity
within their first three songs. Shifting gears again with "Let It Bleed,"
thinly veiled drug-used references are packaged in a rocker with rhythmic
verses and a lush chorus nuanced with McKracken's asylum-escapee rantings
and outbursts. It makes for an extremely compelling pairing who's immediacy
and relevance will not be denied.
If The Used is your taste and you're impressed
with the initial 3 songs...then what follows will only continue to blow
your mind. "All That I've Got" and "Cut Up Angels" are suitable b-sides
for the opening three tracks but they also stand out on their own to varying
degrees of success (although, the former is probably the most pandering
to the Simple Plan crowd).
The grind-core growl of "Listening" and
the ethereal permutation of "Yesterday's Feelings" only reinforce what
an impactful band The Used actually are. Able to completely pull off a
two-ends-of-the-spectrum one-two punch that are these two songs is a testament
Getting light on us is "Hard To Say." And
while it may not be Journey's "Faithfully" for the skateboarding generation,
"...Say" reaches with an obviously autobiographical soft touch.
Rounding out the album is the spoken word
intro to "I'm A Fake," a song which is oxymoronic. While Bert and company
extol the lack of virtues for almost anybody who isn't pure and real to
themselves, but just in time for the holidays, they wrap it up in punk
rock ribbons and hardcore bows. But exactly who they are talking about
is open for discussion.
The Used are getting a lot of buzz from
this effort and deservedly so. This collection of songs is front-to-back
one of the better written and produced...and TRULY punk rock...CDs to come
along for a very long time.
- In Love And Death
1.) Take It Away
2.) I Caught Fire
3.) Let It Bleed
4.) All That I've Got
5.) Cut Up Angels
7.) Yesterday's Feelings
8.) Light With A Sharpened Edge
9.) Sound Effects and Overdramatics
10.) Hard To Say
11.) Lunacy Fringe
12.) I'm A Fake
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