The Used – Artwork

By Spud

I wasn’t quite ready for the start of this album. And much like a Mario Kart boost start, you’re immediately thrust into the mix of it, with what sounds like a Killswitch Engage-style guitar-led intro. After such a promising start, ‘Blood on my hands‘ turns into bouncingly upbeat number, which has a little of the pomp and ceremony involved with it that you would associate with the recent output of My Chemical Romance. Intruiging.

However, things then head a little downhill. As a vehicle for the rest of the album, the opening track is clever, if a little misleading. Lyrically, this record is not great (“I haven’t lost anything except my mind), and at times it feels like you’re reading through a 14-year-old’s diary. And as much voyeuristic value as that brings, it’s a little distracting.

Much like Danny Glover, I know I’m too old for this shit, but the whole record seemed to lack the instant accessibility of their previous albums. And there’s certainly no replacement for the older singalongs which fans have become accustomed to from the likes of ‘I caught fire’, ‘Take it away’ or ‘The taste of ink‘. Having said that, the backgrounded screaming which was scattered throughout In Love And Death (see ‘I’m a fake’) seems to have been largely removed.

Sold my soul’ is reasonable and its chorus briefly harks back to the precise and catchy incarnations of a few years ago, but it’s over very quickly. Rushing to take its place are a motley crew of songs I can only describe as ‘stadium emo’: a bit like if Aerosmith learned to play the guitar 25 years after they actually did. It’s all a little weird.

The Used have fired a salvo of shots with Artwork, but the slight majority appear to have registered on the periphery of the frame, with only a few registering in your natural eye line. Admittedly, the extension of that metaphor doesn’t entirely work, and, for me, neither does this album.

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