'Take It Away' explodes out of the speakers. It's a corker, with a classic rabble...
Nick Reynolds 2005
The Used, who come from Utah, cover all the rock bases with energy and conviction on this, their second album. But the songs on In Love And Death aren't strong enough to make it a great record.
"Take It Away" the first track, explodes out of the speakers. It's a corker, with a classic rabble rousing hook, crunchy guitars and a ranting section thrown in just at the right moment. The band pulls out all the stops to raise the tension and excitement, helped by John Feldmann's inventive production.But sadly the rest of the album doesn't live up to this terrific start.
Singer Bert McCracken has a nasal, creamy voice, the classic American whine as invented by Joey Ramone and perfected by Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong. This kind of singing cuts through the noise but can become cloying. It's best when Bert mixes it up with thrash metal grunting - like on "Let It Bleed" when he squeals like an over excited pig, or "Listening" where there's plenty of screaming.
They try all kinds of different ideas. "All That I've Got" is jangly, pounding midtempo rock number with a sweet string arrangement. "Cut Up Angels" combines provocative, explicit lyrics about knives, guns and cutting yourself with happy music, piano and organ. Like Abbey Road for the self harm generation. "Yesterday's Feeling" is just Bert, an acoustic guitar and a glockenspiel. "Sound Affects And Overdramatics" is heavy thrash. But songs like "Light with A Sharpened Edge", "Hard To Say" and "Lunacy Fringe" sound average at best.
American Rock is highly competitive.Linkin Park have raised the bar high for hook laden pop metal. Green Day have turned into a proper rock band with a (gulp!) concept album and Slipknot have added gobbets of melody to their brutal thrash mix. Next time The Used will have to produce an album where every track is as good as "Take It Away" to keep up.