We’re all used, when you think about it.
The Used is back with a live album from The Palace in Los Angeles, California. While secret-emo fans may be surprised, the group is still alive and well. For those who are unfamiliar with the band, The Used is a group that arose strongly during the emo-scene’s minute in the spotlight with songs like “I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes)” and “The Bird and The Worm.” Many a My Chemical Romance fan will recall a song or two popping up in their Pandora radio stations. Despite this, The Used have never really subscribed to the genre, merely claiming themselves as rock. Nonetheless, with a Used album, one never knows what to expect, save for Brent McCraken and Dan Whitesides’ presence.
Pretentious, the collection of songs selected for this performance are mostly comprised of the most popular tracks of their surprisingly long run as a band and are met with an enthusiastic audience and a highly unenthused album listener. Songs such as “All That I’ve Got,” “Blue and Yellow,” and “The Bird and The Worm” are much appreciated bringers of nostalgia for those of us who went through the Emo scene and rose, scathed and with a better sense of musical taste. Bert McCraken is, as always, a front man in the textbook checklist style, irritating and oh-so talkative. While one “imagines” (and, yes, that is a pun) this is to allow the actual musicians preparation time for their next performance, it is no less grating. There may be some redeemable other fact in his candor, however it is highly masked by his constant talk of money. Another disappointing fact is that the cursing is at an inordinate and unacceptable amount which even a self-proclaimed foul-mouth may blush at or alternately be confused by. There is a time and a place for everything, and the cursing here does not even punctuate, inflect, or accentuate any sort of thought. Its just arbitrary and there, like a toddler finding out what the middle finger is for. There is no reprieve or quarter given once he begins singing, as first time listeners soon realize that shrill tenor in his voice is a no-joke constant. The songs themselves convert to acoustic well and are still equally as enjoyable in either format, and the seemingly obligatory cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” is thankfully and pleasantly short. This is the most dismissible track on the live album.
For those fans of The Used who were not at the performance, this album will be a joy, a wonderment, and a pacifier in their hopes for a new album. However, for those who pick this up as their first “The Used” experience, one urges caution and preparedness. While the composition and instrumentality are actually pretty fantastic on the album, lyrically it is at best bubblegum, and the lead singer’s voice is no candy to the ears.