Album Review // THE USED ‘Heartwork’
Turn your speakers up as The Used’s 8th studio album Heartwork is going to teach you a state-of-the-art mixology masterclass of sounds and genres.
Just trust me and turn the volume up for this one! To my (pleasant) surprise, there is a big difference between what you get to hear when playing Heartwork as a background soundtrack versus when you purposely sit down and pay attention to it. It’s almost like the artistry of these songs is pulled to the surface by the decibels, especially in the case of the instrumental. It flourishes from vanilla noise, whose only merit is to create a base while the vocals are fully responsible for the song’s musicality, to a captivating melody worthy of accompanying the vocals and fully capable of adding value to the songs. But regardless of the volume, one thing is clear, Bert McCracken is going to prove once again he’s an outstanding singer, with a versatile vocal range and a charismatic sensibility, able to transmit a wide range of emotions and attitudes in the cleanest and clearest way. He will make you feel happy, encourage you to aim high, draw out your negative feelings in a non-harmful way, help you look inside yourself through a different lens, challenge your fragility and rethink your brokenness… all while showing you the multitude of contexts and meanings you can attribute to the word ‘fire’.
Speaking of a plethora of emotions, the band’s 8th and newest studio album Heartwork also experiments with a multitude of influences from genres like punk, screamo, post-hardcore, pop and electronic, while still keeping an immediately recognizable ‘The Used’ signature rock sound and spirit. It starts with a couple of the album’s heaviest tunes Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton and Blow Me (feat. Jason Aalon Butler) which were also released ahead of the album as a taster for the band’s latest masterpiece.
BIG WANNA BE, Wow, I Hate This Song and Gravity’s Rainbow take the heaviness and pair it with a weirdly positive, intoxicating confidence and uplifting anthemic vibes to give it a different dimension. In the meantime, Cathedral Bell and 1984 (Infinite Jest) adopt deep electronic elements you’d expect from Billie Eillish, mixed with influences from The Neighbourhood and Fall Out Boy.
On the flip side of their experimental infusion with electronic elements, Clean Cut Heals and The Lighthouse (feat. Mark Hoppus) put forward a more light and dance, party vibe. The Lottery (feat. Caleb Shomo) takes this sound mixology masterclass even further with an unexpected pairing of salsa and post-hardcore which somehow flows surprisingly well.
As you might have noticed by now, Heartwork is a highly diverse album, splashed with influences from many now popular genres and modern sounds. It has something to suit everybody’s taste and it might also lead you to discover your new guilty pleasure in the form of a new and strange rock flavour. Without further spoiling this incredibly fun yet heavy album, I encourage you to give it a listen with open mind and loud speakers.