If you’re an individual in your 20s, THE USED are probably seen as a nostlagia act, that band you listened to as you started having girlfriends, when spending all day listening to In Love and Death, hand in hand, was the best thing you could ever do…and yes, yours truly probably spotted a few of you at the band’s shows last year in the UK when they played said album in full. Truth is, Bert McCracken and co are more than just a band who are consigned to the record books and known for pulling on heartstrings and covering QUEEN‘s Under Pressure with MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE. Seventh album THE CANYON is out today via Hopeless Records and the first not to feature guitarist Quinn Allman, with six-string duties undertaken by Justin Shekoski.
This could actually be the most personal album THE USED have ever brought to life; a double album with 17 songs played out across 80 minutes, it’s been recorded without any sort of click track or the like. No repeat plays to get everything ready, just as if the band were playing live. Because of this, the album is a lot more stripped back and raw than the slick production and bombast of their previous releases, but it’s a major factor in the honesty that this album exhudes. What is heard, therefore, is a band playing from the heart, who despite their somewhat waning status are still passionate about everything they do and love the music they play.
Take the opening track For You as an example. There isn’t a single note of music for the first two minutes; instead we get McCracken describing the subject of the song (a love one who passed away) and physically breaking down. When the music DOES begin, it’s just an acoustic guitar and a bit of strings along with Bert‘s strained, raspy vocals that give the track an extra degree of intimacy not usually seen before. There’s also Rise Up Lights which displays more of the classic sound that we’re accustomed to with THE USED but Bert sounds like he’s about to crumble at any moment.
The rest of the band – Skekoshi, bassist Jeph Howard and drummer Dan Whitesides – are also on top form, which is just as well given that they’re playing everything together as if on stage. Tight and crafting a wonderful mural of images on the mind with their melodies and hooks. Lead single Over and Over Again, which caused alarm amongst fans when it surfaced, makes a lot more sense when encompassed with the rest of the album as a body of work and slots in nicely in the grand tapestry of things whilst the best songs are save until last – Moon-Dream once again takes everything down to the bad bones which is McCracken and strings, The Nexus is a slinky, sensual number that moves with an arrogant grace and The Mouth of the Canyon, which closes the album, gives a glimmer of hope to what is overall a very heavy and emotional record that tugs on every single sense at various points.
Rumours of THE USED‘s demise, therefore, have definitely been greatly exaggerated. The Canyon proves there is still a lot left in the thank and whilst it may prove to be a divisive record amongst fans, it’s a rich experience that provides a great roller-coaster for all who take the time to delve into it.
The Canyon is out now via Hopeless Records.
Like THE USED on Facebook.