This year has been difficult so far and we all need a little help to get through it. The Used are here to help with their latest release, Heartwork.
It’s been a while since their last offering, the band’s seventh album, 2017’s The Canyon. However, this record due out on April 24 is rumoured to be a great mix of new and old.
Heartwork starts with an amazing song which really sets the album up, ‘Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton’. Starting off with such a high standard can be risky but in this case it pays off. The catchy riffs are awesome, with their new guitarist Joey Bradford really pulling it out of the bag here. The lyrical content is just as awesome which is inspired by Milton’s 1667 poem.
“I’ve always been a bit obsessed with that poem. I really dug deep into the poem and its author, John Milton,” Bert McCracken explained. “I realized that a lot of what ‘Satan’ says in Paradise Lost are quotes directly from John Milton’s own mouth,” he continued. Parts of this album are inspired by Bert McCracken’s own library; this track is just one of them.
The band wants us to know that lyrically, and it’s nice to think The Used sends listeners to the library. “The connection to the world of books that I live in is the most exciting thing for me about the last couple of records. I’ve been able to take whatever I’m really loving at the time and kind of force it into the songs,” said McCracken. “On this record, there’s two songs that contain all three of my favorite books: Gravity’s Rainbow, 1984, and Infinite Jest,” he continued. This deep connection is something that you can feel lyrically in the relevant songs but the record is not all books — there are breakdowns too.
‘Blow Me’, which brings Fever 333 vocalist Jason Aaron Butler on board, is a punky collaboration that sees heavy breakdowns which is always a good sign of an epic song. Then we fly swiftly into ‘Big, Wannna Be’, the slowest song so far is heavier in some places and others not, which is all a part of its beauty. Maybe not quite as beautiful as the orchestral arrangements in the next song ‘Bloody Nose’ though, a song that brings us back to the old The Used that we know and love.
There are a few great collaborations on this album which sees the band reunited with longtime producer John Feldmann. It’s no coincidence that they are all drawn together not only by musical influence but a love of working with Feldmann. One of the highlights is hearing blink-182’s Mark Hoppus crack out a blinding pre-chorus in ‘The Lighthouse’.
Keeping Hoppus company on the record is his bandmate Travis Barker who makes an appearance in the most throwback song of them all, ‘Obvious Blasé’. Obviously he’s guesting as the drummer on this track, which is a hark back to The Used early days in the way of sound.
This lineup consisting of vocalist McCracken, bassist Jepha Howard, drummer Dan Whitesides, and, the newest member, guitarist Bradford is a great incarnation of emo/screamo/punk rock or however you choose to classify their genre. (There may even be a little EDM influence thrown in there too.)
Between them they have crafted a wonderful record that does more than take the listener to the library, it takes younger bands to school when it comes to how to get things right! This is definitely an album to stream again and again, you will always find something different awaiting you with each listen.