Artist: The Used
Album: The Canyon
Label: Hopeless Records
Release date: October 27, 2017
The Canyon, the newest of seven full-length albums from alternative rock band The Used, is teenage angst all grown up.
Opening with th the intimate track “For You” in which lead singer Bert McCracken talks about what he'd say on his deathbed – a track that is similar to The Used's early material in terms of its minimalism and intimacy, but different in its maturity of both tone and lyrics – The Canyon is an expansive album that showcases music far more polished and sometimes erring on the said of pop than earlier offerings.
While the songs often retain the same raw quality to the vocals and push the same pathos as earlier albums, the polished, produced aspect does create an experience, at times, of listening to a new band rather than the latest evolution of an existing band.
Many of the songs – such as “The Divine Absence (This Is Water)” – have an anthemic feel that would be more at home played in a stadium than listened to over headphones, like old fan favorite “The Taste of Ink.” And the heavier songs, like “Selfies in Aleppo” just don’t have the same heart.
That’s not to say that heart cannot be found on The Canyon. Just the opposite, there’s a lot of it pouring out, just with different trappings than we’ve come to expect from The Used. This is most beautifully demonstrated at the very opening of the album, with words not even sung but spoken: "...if I had five minutes to hold Tregen's hand, and if he had five minutes to hold his dad's hand...what would it be? Like, what could we possibly say in those moments? ... I think I caught it in the chorus. I would say, 'All I want to say to you is that your love never leaves me alone, and now you're right here. Hold my hand. Every single song I ever sing is for you.'"
There are also moments of quiet heartbreak, like in "Upper Falls" where McCracken sings, "I see your bass guitar in your room / And Pearl Jam Ten on the wall / And what did it take / To trigger the end / I could have been there / I miss you my friend."
While The Canyon might be a disappoint for the more hardcore The Used purists, the album will likely prove a pleasant surprise for others, and will undoubtedly pull in new fans who are unaware of their history and enjoy the more pop-infused elements of the album.
You can listen to The Canyon on Spotify, along with The Used's previous releases.