The Used falls flat in ‘Imaginary Enemy’
For artists and musicians, it is only natural to try to work in elements of progression and experimentation into new works of art.
Pushing the envelope, changing one’s voice and tweaking what you have done before is how memorable songs and masterpieces are perfected.
Unfortunately for the post-hardcore punk outfit, The Used, change doesn’t always resonate in the finished product.
The band’s latest studio album, “Imaginary Enemy,” is a politically minded concept album that was never truly realized and lacks any form originality in the social issues it tries to take on.
For a band that turned out instant hits like “The Taste of Ink,” “Bulimic,” “Poetic Tragedy” and “I Caught Fire,” the group’s latest compilation is unfortunate in that it is devoid of the raw energy, emotion and downright honesty fans have come to adore and expect.
In the past, fans of the band turned to Burk McCracken’s distinct and heart-in-your-throat vocals in dealing with angst, heartache and extreme emotional distraught. He was subtly, but boldly the voice of a millennial generation of teenagers.
Somewhere along the way, The Used went poppy. Instead of churning out tracks that would make for the perfect complement to any “Warped Tour” compilation, McCracken deviated from an honest and more inwardly songwriting process and began catering to the masses and pandering to radio plays.
Despite the sluggish finish, the album has a strong enough of a beginning with “Revolution,” which features a catchy enough of chorus and a heavy guitar bridge. The fact that it is mixed with elements of electronica doesn’t detract from the track overall.
The title track and single, “Cry,” will have you doing just that before it’s over. This track has enough energy, and the theme is not unknown to the band, but the bridge becomes a little murky with what sounds like a mid-song soliloquy by McCracken.
“Make Believe” and “Evolution” are a tad bit too slow-paced for what the band is capable of, but a mixture of a nicely written chorus and light rock elements saves the songs from obscurity.
At rare moments throughout the tracks and the rest of the album, it sounds like the band is primed to push full throttle, but holds off at the last second.
“A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression (A Work in Progress)” is just what the title indicates — a solid rock opening that turns into a poppy mess of up-tempo noise that is laden with archetypical political charges that have already been thoroughly exploited by many acts long before The Used came along.
For true fans, “Imaginary Enemy” is one that should be left out their collection unless it taints evidence of a band gone astray.
Like the name applies, it should have remained only a figment of the band’s imagination.