The Used Artwork

The Used Artwork
When the Used released their debut self-titled record in 2002, they benefited from other like-sounding bands, such as Taking Back Sunday, soaring to popularity. Seven years later, the band find themselves more exposed than ever before on Artwork. The safety net of other screamo-esque bands tearing up the charts has been taken down and their middle-of-the-road, pop-influenced delivery on this album falls down the chasm. The cover art ― a large needle with "art" on it cutting into an arm to spell "work" ― falsely gives the impression of a dark, moody album. And perhaps elements of that are scattered throughout ("Men Are All the Same"), but the 11 tracks are generally lighter, airier versions of past material, something the band call "gross pop." Whatever it's called, it definitely doesn't strike any enjoyable chord. Bert McCracken's voice is more whiny than emotive ("Born to Quit," "Empty With You"), and when they deliberately slow the tempo on "Kissing You Goodbye," the screaming guitar, mixed with piano, feels more contrived than inspired. (Reprise)