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[Screamo]

The Used

Artwork

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The Used - Artwork

The fourth album from the onetime kings of screamo features new drummer Dan Whitesides, new producer Matt Squire (Panic! At the Disco) and a comparatively clearer life outlook for formerly drama-plagued frontman Bert McCracken. Unfortunately, the end result continues in the same vein as The Used’s two most recent clunkers.

The Details

The Used
One stars
Beyond the Weekly
The Used
Billboard: The Used

Loosely grouped around the concept of self-hatred, the 11 pop/hard-rock hybrids are as raw, dark and unpolished as the band allegedly intended. But they’re also surface-deep and uninspired, lacking indications of musical evolution or emotional insight. At least McCracken’s old habit of vomiting onstage stemmed from angst-overloaded banshee shrieks decrying the affront that is basic human survival.

Apparently, uplifting, fist-pumping melodies remain a thing of the past as well. Judging by Artwork, what remains of 2002’s determined teenagers are those exact same teenagers, only more sullen and jaded than ever. McCracken retains a fascination with violence (decent, aggressive opener “Blood on My Hands”), croons awkward eternal-love ballads (“Kissing You Goodbye”) and imagines apologetic alternate realities for Heath Ledger (“Meant to Die”). After a history of drugs, religious oppression and toxic relationships, who’d have thought a simple case of arrested development would be the nail in the band’s creative coffin?

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Julie Seabaugh

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