The Used

Album Title: In Love and Death
Release Date: September 28, 2004
Genre: Rock
Like the report card of a bright but easily distracted school kid, The Used's second album is unfortunately very much a case of "should do better".

The tale of the Utah band's ascendancy prior to and following the release of their self-titled debut has been well documented and self-publicised. Four disillusioned young guys with varying degrees of personal problems united by music, they hocked-up a passionate and exhilarating album from the lump in their throats.

Roll on two years and The Used are superstars who unfortunately may have lost inspiration. You almost hope this is the case, because if the change of direction taken on 'In Love and Death' is deliberate, it's worrying what The Used have decided to become.

This is mostly a lightweight album, full of generic big choruses that fail to impress when inserted into uninspiring build-ups. The band massively underplay their propensity to rock throughout the twelve songs, with opener 'Take it Away' 'Sound Effects and Overdramatics' 'Hard to Say' and closer 'I'm a Fake' the only true scream-alongs.

It's as if they have listened to popular comparisons with Story of the Year (also produced by Gold Finger's John Feldman), laid dead and accepted them. The Used's first long player had so much more to offer than this.

It's by no means all bad. Frontman Burt McCracken still brims with the talent that distinguishes him from the numerous also-rans, and 'Listening' and 'Let it Bleed' are finely written efforts that would be more even more welcome interspersed in further bouts of aggression.

But the aggression just isn't always there. 'I Caught Fire' 'Cut Up Angels' and 'Yesterday's Feelings' encapsulate the often over-produced and consistently underwhelming standard of the remaining tracks.

The good news is that the Used had set a fine precedent with their first album, and the fans won't be deserting them just yet. There's still enough to enjoy here to make 'In Love and Death' a worthwhile purchase.

Form is temporary, class is permanent. They're still "the mother fucking Used", after all.

Writer: Tim Newbound

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