Throughout our lives we amass a collection of friends and relationships that help us feel as if we’re not alone. When we become blindsided by loss or a personal tragedy, we learn that there is a certain kind of loneliness that can’t always be filled. In a vortex of heartache, front-man Bert McCracken uses his grief of a loved one to bring us a new album unlike anything he has written before. Post hardcore outfit The Used have always been known for their unique and indefinable elements in their sound that help them to stand out from the rest. This time, the band steps into foreign territory, exploring new aspects of their sound and the duality of memories and regret with their latest album, The Canyon.
The Canyon paints a dreary and haunting picture, shadowed by McCraken’s loss of a close friend. Though the album is easy to connect with, it reveals a vulnerability of the band. The opening track “For You” is unusually soft and tear jerking as McCracken speaks for the first 60 seconds. This sets the scene for the rest of the album which continues to tug at the heart strings. I’ll admit, this album did take a few times to grow on me. McCraken’s vocals come off somewhat rocky in the first few songs, but you still feel the grief, anger and passion in his tone. The tempo of the album doesn’t start to pick up until “Rise Up Lights,” which has more of a punk-rock element.
With each track the album becomes more familiar of the sound that many of us expect from The Used. McCraken’s vocals shine in tracks like “Pretty Picture,” “Funeral Post,” and “Upper Falls,” showing off his control and a variety of notes. The lyrics are heavy and passionate, but its the instrumentals that really bring this album to life. New guitarist Justin Shekoski fills the spaces with powerful leads and a metallic groove. In many of the tracks there is a sense of urgency added by Shekoski’s lead riffs complemented with Dan Whitesides on the drums driving everything forward.
The Canyon isn’t necessarily for everyone and may lead to some divide amongst longtime fans as the style and approach is drastically different from their previous material, but it is something that I think each person can relate to in one way or another. The album does drag a bit as it draws closer to the end, but if you’re willing to stick it out you’ll find that the rise and falls of the dynamics are quite impressive and grow on you. It’s definitely not an album that you dive into by looking up one or two songs to decide if you should listen or not. I think that the audience will find that the tracks are not so much about the technicality of the sound, but more so about the emotions you experience from the opening to closing track.