Following on from 2017’s critically-acclaimed ‘The Canyon’, Utah quartet The Used have teamed up with long-time producer John Feldmann to create their eighth LP, ‘Heartwork’.
The streamlined full-length sees the group delve into every aspect of their storied career to deliver arguably their strongest record yet.
With driving chords ushering in ‘Paradise Lost, A Poem By John Milton’, The Used waste no time in delivering the big hooks that have very much defined their career. A testament to the quartet’s deft approach to song writing, no second is wasted as multiple hooks and riffs flow throughout the opener.
The same can be said for lead single ‘Blow Me’, as rolling drum beats, throat shredding screams courtesy of guest feature Jason Aalon Butler (Fever 333/Pressure Cracks), and wide choruses fly past in seconds. Showcasing the streamlined approach to structure that permeates ‘Heartwork’, the track shifts from an anthemic chorus to a crunching breakdown with ease.
Taking elements from the more experimental aspects of their career, ‘Big, Wanna Be’ revisits the textured ambient soundscapes found on ‘The Canyon’ to create a track that unfurls delicate melodies and thick hooks in equal measure. Whilst it would be easy to focus on massive choruses and revisiting the winning formula of 2004’s ‘In Love And Death’, tracks such as ‘Wow, I Hate This Song’ move towards the blurred lines of contemporary rock and commercial pop.
As ‘Heartwork’ plays through, the devil may care attitude to soundscape that has defined the latter output of The Used and the concise song writing that pushed their career sit together seamlessly. This is shown on ‘Cathedral Bell’ which combines vocoders, classical flourishes, stuttering percussion, and urgent vocal delivery to create an engrossing listen.
Across a sprawling track list, the quartet dip and dive throughout many influences with glee, from the winding ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ to the electro stomp of ‘Clean Cut Heals’, the record takes multiple risks whilst retaining the anthemic choruses that support their greatest tracks.
Towards its conclusion, ‘Heartwork’ delivers a trilogy of guest starring tracks, with each one revelling in the various elements of the quartet. From ‘The Lighthouse’ highlighting the modern pop sheen, ‘Obvious Blasé’ bouncing around pop-punk melodies, and ‘The Lottery’ unleashing their tightly wound blend of chaos.
As ‘Heartwork’ draws to a close, The Used have secured their own return, one that sees the quartet refine their sound and also sees the world catch up with their more experimental tendencies.