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In Love and Death

Studio Album by released in 2004
In Love and Death's tracklist:
Take It Away
I Caught Fire
Let It Bleed
All That I've Got
Cut Up Angels
Listening
Yesterday's Feelings
Light With a Sharpened Edge
Sound Effects and Overdramatics
Hard to Say
Lunacy Fringe
I'm a Fake

In Love and Death review

The members of The Used had to overcome homelessness and substance abuse, not to mention the strait-laced attitudes of their hometown of Orem, UT, to make their brand of hard rock. But they persevered and earned a contract with Reprise Records. Since the release of The Used’s critically acclaimed self-titled debut in mid-2002, they have quickly become a musical powerhouse. In Love and Death is their official sophomore album, following the tide over hodgepodge of 2003's Maybe Memories. With this album The Used have truly found their voice – honest, uncompromising, loud and strong. Their frontman Bert McCracken endured a public split from Kelly Osbourne, which has clearly caused him much distress. If this weren't enough, McCracken's preparations for his band's second album were interrupted by the deaths of two friends and his pet Chihuahua. How such an awful period in young Bert's life lead to such a distastefully beautiful rock record is unexplainable. But the power of discovery, which sounds like it was helped by the frequent bouts of vomiting and self harm, seems worth it because In Love and Death is equal parts heavenly aural relief and blood tripping, screaming noise.

Songs of self-abuse and suicide - and those are the sunnier moments - are wrapped in wailing riffs, big choruses and fiddly guitar solos. They've found some harder guitars in the interim, filling Take It Away and I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes) with directly energizing chord progressions that spill over rewardingly into triumphant choruses. Take It Away even revitalizes the ridiculously played-out singing guy/screaming guy dynamic that The Used and so many of their peers unfailingly deploy. Listening lays McCracken's spastic tantrums over shifting, hard-driving rhythms; Yesterday's Feelings is a glockenspiel-laden reverie and one of several surprisingly gentle numbers. The rest of In Love and Death plays directly to the bruised souls and bleeding hearts of tortured teenage scribblers everywhere, incorporating emo-punk revivalist genre touchstones like tortured/sweet vocals, jarring time shifts, and elaborately-layered production techniques.

A cynic could easily write off The Used as the product of major label opportunism; a tool used to harvest the post nu-metal interest in melodic, pseudo-hardcore. However, an optimist could easily see In Love and Death as proof positive that The Used are to emo-metal what Jimmy Eat World was to emo-pop; a band with enough FM-radio appeal to take the genre mainstream. In Love and Death confirms their superiority with a smartly constructed, creatively varied approach. In Love and Death offers plenty of softer and more introspective material: heartfelt ballads, string arrangements and cuts that hew closer to the pop charts than the pit. Though Take It Away definitely takes a page from The Used’s rap-rock predecessors on the rock radio circuit, the remainder of In Love and Death sounds more like Matchbook Romance or Story of the Year. If you like power pop with a little hollering, The Used could be your huckleberry. Whether The Used will end up pleasing no one by trying to please everyone with their continuing eclecticism is something to consider. But at least they don't sound like they're just screaming to the choir.

(11.07.2005)
Rate review3.69
Total votes - 39


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