The Used return this month with a new record, The Canyon, their seventh studio album to date. It was immediately obvious when The Used arrived on the music scene that they had a fire to set their band apart, but few could have guessed then that the group would become one of the era’s most enduring bands. Outlasting many of their peers – albeit not without lineup changes – The Used have managed to mature with age without moving away from their core sound.
The Canyon was produced by Ross Robinson (Norma Jean, Frank Iero, At The Drive In) and the legendary producer’s thumbstamp is immediately noticeable on the end result, a testament to why so many bands still turn to Robinson for production. None of this, of course, takes away from the work the band themselves put into the recording; this is their best album since In Love and Death, no small accomplishment.
‘For You’, the album’s opening track is a gentle ballad, but its unexpectedly soft musicality is offset by how fraught with emotion it feels, keeping the track from ever becoming over-sentimental. Far from setting the tone for the remainder of the album, however, from there on out The Canyon blasts off.
‘Broken Windows’ is as good a song as anything the band has previously released. “If I could just start over, the same thing would happen”, Bert McCracken sings, with his knack for tapping into the universal sentiment in a specific circumstance.
‘Over and Over Again’, already the first single off the album and accompanied by a beautiful, hallucinatory music video, neatly sums up where The Used find themselves at on this album. Well-crafted and catchy, but with surprising elements (like the mandolin that shouldn’t feel like such a seamless fit here, yet does…) the song takes their core sound to new places.
The most interesting track musically, though, is ‘Funeral Post’. With its dreamy, whammy-bar-heavy guitar intro, it pushes the band’s sound to somewhere challenging and different. McCracken sings “Dig the grave, the post remains / I missed the funeral, but I hope that you have a great show” in what is a truly fantastic break-up song. The pacing of his lyrics, the syncopation, and his delivery – alternately sultry and anguished – elevate ‘Funeral Post’ to make it the record’s standout.
Overall, The Canyon is a record that finds a natural balance between The Used’s classic sound and fresh development. It feels like a record marking a period of growth for the band: not a radical departure or a forced change, so much as a renewal. Fifteen years on, The Used clearly still have a lot of road ahead of them, and The Canyon is another worthy milestone along it.