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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Used: Artwork

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.

Following the accidental death of actor Heath Ledger in January of 2008, The Used’s frontman Bert McCracken recently admitted he could have just as easily suffered the same fate.

Not shy of having a near-death experience himself (He passed out on stage in Kentucky in 2003 and was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with acute pancreatitis — this was a day before they were scheduled to play in Cleveland, which was cancelled.) and also never meeting his unborn baby and never marrying his long time girl-friend (She died of a drug overdose while pregnant with their child) it’s no surprise that many of the songs on The Used’s latest release, Artwork — in stores today — deal with dying unexpectedly and never having the chance to say goodbye to loved ones.

Songs like “Kissing You Goodbye,” “Meant To Die” and “Men Are All The Same” all follow that suggested theme.

On “Meant to Die,” McCracken sings, “So maybe I took a little too much/Maybe life didn’t want this part of me/If it helps to know/I never let you go/Sure, I lost my mind/But I never really meant to die.”

Despite promises of a harder sound for this album, this actually may be the band’s softest album to date, which isn’t a bad thing. There are little to no McCracken shrieks on this album, which defined their sound throughout their first three albums. However the softer vocals can probably be attributed to McCracken undergoing throat surgery in 2007.

“Kissing You Goodbye” is the bands first piano laced ballad song of their seven year career although isn’t necessarily better than some of their softer songs released on 2002s Self-Titled (“On My Own”) or 2004s In Love and Death (“Hard to Say”).

Artwork is much better than 2007s release Lies for the Liars and is probably equally in line with 2004s In Love and Death.

It doesn’t touch their first release and I suspect nothing they do from here on out will.

Artwork is a step in the right direction for the band and should meet commercial and mainstream success as all of their past releases have been met with as well.

“Kissing You Goodbye”

“Empty With You”

“Men Are All The Same”

(*Note* This is the third album within the past year where a band has used the same lyrics in two songs on the same album. Not sure if this is the new trend but at the end of “Men Are All The Same” The Used follow suit by using the same lyrics from the chorus of “Kissing You Goodbye.”)


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