The Used, despite being pushed into the “dark, dark, dark emotional wreck” column, have always been a punk dignitary with the skill set to tread along hardcore, pop rock and alternative while writing titanic choruses. It’s their niche, the inevitable truth behind their self-titled album and now, Vulnerable, which swallows thick ferocious bass lines, playful synth and frenzied rhythms whole. And though Bert McCracken’s grizzled voicebox and Quin Allman’s string work mirror The Used pre-2006, it lacks a serious album-long push of momentum. “I Come Alive” and “Kiss It Goodbye” keep Vulnerable huffing oxygen, but the rest falls into a downward spiral with collapsible electro-gushing verses and predictability tapping into the band’s spotlighted weakness: trying too hard. It darkens the album’s potential leaving no room for flow, let alone individuality, which solely knitted In Love And Death, but when the group of four limit their assessment of experimentation and let go, the best songs shove aside the band’s worst tendencies. It’s not diary-written poetry cocooned in bitterness, but instead rigorous desperation flailing around that’s nostalgically jaw-breaking enough to leave you screaming the hooks at the top of your lungs.
Download: “I Come Alive”, “Now That You’re Dead”, “Put Me Out”
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