Album Review: The Used – Heartwork

For their new record, The Used enlisted some high-profile friends and delivered a record we won’t stop playing. 

This Friday, Utah emo icons The Used are dropping their new album Heartwork via Big Noise/Hassle Records. In the 16-track piece Bert McCracken and band examine their own mortality, as well as life itself and the full spectrum of the human emotion. To do so they’ve partnered with old friend John Feldman who produced some of the band’s most successful records to date.

But if you think you’ll only find the old The Used on Heartwork, you are sorely mistaken. The enlisting of Blink-182’s Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus as well as Fever 333’s Aalon Butler and Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo gives the record an influence range that will have you go from hip-hop beats and pop hooks to heavy screamo choruses. If you don’t find at least one song to love on this album, you didn’t listen right.

Heartwork starts off with single Paradise Lost, A Poem By John Milton, pulling inspiration from one of Bert McCracken’s favorite authors and the band’s love for heavy emotions.

“I’ve always been a bit obsessed with Paradise Lost,” shares McCracken. “I really dug deep into the poem and its author, John Milton. As I was reading a lot of his political essays, I realized that a lot of what ’Satan’ says in Paradise Lost are quotes directly from John Milton’s own mouth. A lot of people thought he was the devil back then. He had a huge problem with the show of opulence from the Church. He thought it was disgusting. His poem is about the failed revolution against the Church of England, which is Satan’s failed revolution on earth. And what’s more incredible or exciting than a failed revolution?” Bert says.

On second track Blow Me, Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler’s guest appearance bring a whole bunch of punk and grunge attitude and gives a masterful play between screamed and clean vocals. BIG WANNA BE stands in stark contrast to the first two tracks. It’s heavy on the beats and electronic influences but don’t despair, the anthemic chorus and intense bass brings you right back around to a track that’s to die for, though very different to what we may be used to from The Used.

Contrary to its title, Wow, I Hate This Song is one of our favorites on Heartwork. It starts off rather uneventful and slow, almost too quiet for The Used, but as the chorus hits it turns up to stadium energy and it becomes clear this will be a stunner live without a doubt.

Bert McCracken recently said about the record ‘I think music is so all over the place right now that The Used fits in perfectly’ and recent single Cathedral Bell fits in perfectly with that idea. It’s a dip into the world of electronic indie music that works extremely well with McCracken’s vocals.

When you listen to 1984 (Infinite Jest) you may hear a bit of fellow emo icons Panic! At The Disco, there’s a whispered Ignorance Is This throughout the track and especially towards the end it also has hints of My Chemical Romance. “The prettiest corpse is the real black parade” Bert sings, so we’ll let you work that one out.

On The Lighthouse, once again features the electronic pop influence, and with Mark Hoppus on guest vocals it doesn’t come as a surprise if you’ve listened the Blink-182’s latest album NINE, and anything by his side project with All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth Simple Creatures. what’s great about The Lighthouse is how well both their voices work together, Bert’s being very emotional and deep-cutting versus Mark’s rather calm and low tones.

Out of all tracks on Heartwork, Obvious Blasé is the one that reminds us most of classic pop-punk tunes and has some of the most mainstream appeal. Not least thanks to Travis Barker’s killer guest drumming. Much heavier in comparison is the The Lottery that sees Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo making an appearance. The tracks energy is unparalleled with some incredible drops throughout.

The album finishes off on To Feel Something, and it couldn’t end on a more The Used track if it tried. Bert really hits it out of the park with his vocals on this song. There’s a rawness and vulnarbility about it that is beautifully partnered with soft piano riffs in the background.
Overall, The Used deliver an album that is musically so varied you are bound to find songs you’ll love. On Heartwork, the four-piece have really dug deep into their emotional and musical talents and given us an album they can not only be proud of but one that will give you new things to discover and love with every single listen.