ARTIST: THE USED
TITLE: THE CANYON
LABEL: HOPELESS RECORDS
It should first be addressed that anyone looking for another slice of angsty emo brilliance from The Used will be sorely disappointed. The band’s first three albums (self-titled, In Love and Death, Lies For The Liars) are some of the best examples of the phenomenon that was the emo wave of the early 2000s, but in truth, The Used haven’t been an emo band in that sense for quite a while now. Over their last few releases, they’ve taken a decidedly more alt-rock approach to their music, perhaps indicative of an emotional shift within the band as they’ve grown older. Their last album Imaginary Enemy was alt-rock through and through, and The Used continue in this direction with The Canyon.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about The Canyon for what it is; an almost eighty-minute-long, intimate, genuinely fantastic alt-rock album. At the very core of it, this is all down to the turbulent last few years for frontman Bert McCracken, and his willingness to pour those experiences into the songs he writes.
In the first teaser trailer that the band released for the album, McCracken explained how the name of the record stemmed from the canyon by which he had spent much of his childhood playing, and where a friend of his had taken his life a year earlier. This seems to have been one of the primary influences on the album, which opens up on ‘For You’, a raw, powerful acoustic track that begins with a clip of Bert talking about his loss. It’s heart-breaking, and is indicative of the overall maturity of the album, which taps into motifs of depression, loss and emptiness. These aren’t new topics for The Used, but never have they been handled so deftly, with such emotional impact.
There are many stand out tracks on the album, but of the seventeen songs, the beginning of the album’s two halves (For You and Selfies In Aleppo), and the tracks Broken Windows and Over and Over Again stand out as some of the most unique.
Overall, The Canyon provides one of the most complete packages that The Used have ever put out, and may just be one of their best albums. It may not achieve the same iconic status as their self-titled debut or In Love And Death, but that’s to be expected with such a dramatic shift from the sound and style which had first brought them to the limelight fifteen years ago. If you were looking for an album that returned to the band’s roots, you’re going to have to keep waiting, because The Canyon is nothing of the sort. However, if you were just looking for a very good album, then you’ve found one.
You can listen to the album here:
WORDS: JOSHUA SOUTHERN