The Used dropped a new single this week, titled Over and Over Again, and some people aren’t feeling it. The single, taken from the bands upcoming seventh LP The Canyon is decidedly pop, and this pop sound continues to divide fans of the band. I’m not sure why, because The Used have been a band leaning towards pop for a long time now; if not necessarily embracing the genre the band have always taken influence from it. I hear traces of that mentality working my way backward through the band’s discography – from their more disappointing new material to the records that seemed trademark of early 00’s punk-tinged emo tendencies. Even one of the bands earliest tracks, A Box Full Of Sharp Objects had a strangely infectious choral hook.
Released: 2007 Label: Reprise Records
Variant: Unknown Purchased from: Amazon.co.uk
Listening to Over and Over Again (a track I’ll admit I’m not really feeling), I wanted to revisit what remains my second-favorite album in The Used’s sizeable back-catalog. Lies For The Liars was the record that really made me take notice of the band. I’d heard their earlier releases, but only in terms of their singles – Buried Myself Alive and The Taste of Ink were privy to heavy airplay and rotation on the music channels I immersed myself in at the time. They were songs I liked, for sure, but neither really struck a chord with me, that changed with Lies For The Liars. From the first few seconds of the record, I was hooked, pulled along by the frenetic momentum and delirious drive of the album. Looking back, seeing as I was twelve when hearing it, something about the record spooked me. Maybe it was that garish album cover or frontman Bert McCracken’s open-hearted embracing of the personal issues that plagued him. Maybe it was the gross-pop label that The Used coined on the records follow-up, Artwork. Lies… was a gross record, all vivid imagery of self-torture and emotional strife. It was sickly sweet and sometimes just sick. It wasn’t an easy listen at the time, but it was a listen I ended up returning to often, my initial apprehensions regarding the content quickly dissolving into genuine appreciation.
Like My Chemical Romance, with whom the band is often grouped, there was a cinematic element to Lies For The Liars. It was more than just a normal record; it was a spectacle. A result of the songwriting on show here, The Used made an immersive and varied experience within the record. From the jagged opening of The Ripper, I was sucked into this slideshow of circus horror, this tolerable nightmare of sound that seemed to alien to my ears but enjoyable all the same. It was an enjoyable record for unexpected records – at times it’s funny, bizarre, experimental and surprisingly innovative. The schizophrenic sounds of Paralyzed were new to me, the instrumental arrangement of the track making it more upbeat than it should’ve been. McCracken throws himself about vocally in an attempt to capture his mania, coming across as a leering ringleader, guiding the listener through a funhouse of horrors. Thinking back to my first impressions of the record, they’re hard to give words to. It felt at times like a guilty pleasure, and I wondered often if I should like it as much as I did. Listening to Hospital now, I still feel that way.
Lies For The Liars tries a lot of interesting things, and for the most part, it works. Lead single The Bird and the Worm is still one of the best songs the band has made, while latter track Find A Way is comfortably one of the worst. The ballad doesn’t really convince, and it’s a definite misstep. The Used have always had that ‘hot or cold’ nature to their music, and their pop sensibilities don’t always sit so well against some of their more intense moments – Liar Liar (Burn in Hell) for example. Still, I think Lies For The Liars is more than a decent record, one of those transitional releases that furthered my love for alternative music. It’s a record I look back on fondly, but not one I feel particularly inclined to revisit in the current moment. I think that at the age of twenty-two I’m better able to recognize its flaws than I did when I was a kid. Lies For The Liars is a healthy dose of nostalgia, and I expect it’ll remain that way.