Lots of bands I follow are coming out with high number albums, the latest being probably the most widely-followed band. The Used, known for their ever-angsty lyrics sung by a lyricist some would call whiny, and sound that never fails to be edgy and often creepy, just dropped their fifth studio album Vulnerable. Much in the way of many maturing bands, they’ve managed to integrate aspects of their earlier releases seamlessly into this one album, although this harkens less to the early days and more to albums like Lies for the Liars and Artwork.
That last sentence will no doubt disappoint fans from the self-titled era (and some from In Love and Death), but have no fear; this first venture onto an independent record label is about as close as you can get to an all-encompassing collection of the various sounds of The Used. They feature their obligatory ballad numbers, manage to sneak in their creepy sound a few times, and take with them-perhaps more than anything else-the straightforward rock that dominated Artwork, which finds itself in almost every track.
One thing that pleasantly surprised me is that there’s an uplifting song on this album. Sure, it’s only one, but Bert McCracken has never been big on the empowerment so it’s a huge step. “Shine,” perhaps the only song by The Used I can say is genuinely inspirational, is my second favorite song on the album. The best on the album is another first for this band: honest-to-goodness alternative punk rock. “Moving On” is a masterpiece that combines the tone of bands like Good Charlotte with the more gritty feel of Rise Against, and it’s all wound together with McCracken’s distinct singing (and yelling) voice. In order to fully grasp how unique this is for The Used, listen to “Empty With You” from Artwork (its closest counterpart) and then this song. The difference in tone is remarkable.
I’ve heard a lot of gripes about “old The Used” being better than “new The Used,” and if you’re one of those hardcore kids this album probably won’t change your mind. However, if you’re willing to accept the band’s growing maturity, Vulnerable will pleasantly surprise you. Don’t get me wrong, this album is 100 percent distinctly The Used. Any fan of the band or alternative rock in general owes it to himself to check this one out.