The Used

Vulnerable

Written by: TL on 17/12/2012 20:40:23

It's weird: Despite the fact that I remember liking a couple of tracks from the last The Used album "Artwork" I've found myself completely disinterested throughout the year, in listening to their latest opus "Vulnerable" and indeed I am mostly reviewing it now, over half a year after its release, for the sake of our archives' completeness. It's doubly weird because as I listen to "Vulnerable", I notice that The Used are not quite a band that sound tired or uninspired even on this their fifth LP. Oh no, there's plenty of life in especially the instrumental side to "Vulnerable" and the band even experiments with some electronics on a few tracks - with varied results I might add, though I admit to liking the bass wobble that comes in when "Hands And Faces" moves from bridge to final chorus.

I suspect though, that my problem might lie with frontman Bert McCracken who sounds like he's stuck both lyrically and vocally, in styles that just belongs to a younger age. His sharp, deranged croon is characteristic of course, but lyrics like "Put me out like a cigarette, out like a cigarette" just seem like a really silly choice for refrain in "Put Me Out"; a composition featuring promising instrumental elements. The same goes for "it's my time to shine, do it my way cuz it's my time baby, it's my time to burn, start a fire, be the one and only" in an otherwise likely single candidate "Shine". I dislike dragging age into the equation, but it's hard to not listen to this and feel a disconnect between such lyrics and the fact that McCracken turned 30 in February.

Bert has always been a character though, and The Used have thrived (and even occasionally appealed to me) regardless, in later years due to their increasingly refined mix of hard, energetic rock with the theatrical production tricks of producer John Feldmann. Yet while I like the aggressive riffage and menacing leads of "Put Me Out", the breakneck speed of "Now That You're Dead", the signature effects in "Give Me Love" and the Muse-ish bass groove of "Kiss It Goodbye"; I still don't feel like either of these songs are particularly memorable, especially not compared to previous The Used highlights.

Eventually my conclusion has become that "Vulnerable" simply and bluntly has a severe case of 'mediocre melodies'. It's not that the band don't seem to still have ambitions as composers - They still seem to want to push their sound, and Feldmann's theatrics actually don't come off as OTT as usual on here. Somehow things still just never add up to any particularly exciting moments, especially not when hindered by the adolescent-ish narrative of McCracken, who is mainly to blame if the band's main audience is still below the age the members were when they came together in 2001. It's hard then, to shake those feelings I came in with: that The Used anno 2012 are somewhat unremarkable, and as a consequence a little irrelevant.

Download: Put Me Out, Give Me Love, Now That You're Dead
For The Fans Of: D.R.U.G.S, Get Scared, Escape The Fate, Senses Fail
Listen: facebook.com/TheUsed

Release Date 26.03.2012
Anger Music Group / Hopeless Records

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