The Used’s New Album ‘Heartwork’ Weaves Literary References and Vulnerability Into a Wild, Intriguing Listen (Out Now)


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Heartwork, the eighth studio album from the Used, is out today — and it’s an adventure.

The emo/rock band first burst onto the scene in 2002, becoming a stalwart on the Warped Tour circuit and selling tons of records, vocalist Bert McCracken leading the charge with his high-register voice and vulnerable presence matched to buzzsaw guitars and slightly pop-oriented emo/rock anthems.

Heartwork is the band’s first record since The Canyon, an adventurous double-album that was intriguing for its depth and experimentation. For the new record, the Used reconvened with producer John Feldmann and Big Noise Records, where Feldmann reigns as head of A&R.

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It was Feldman who signed the Used in 2002, you see, and would go on to produce their albums Maybe Memories, In Love and Death, Lies for the Liars, Vulnerable and Imaginary Enemy. 

Listening to Heartwork, it’s clear the Used felt pretty comfortable in the studio, and the end result is a 16-track album featuring standout songs like “Paradise Lost, a Poem By John Milton” — yes, that’s its actual title:

And “Cathedral Bell,” which takes a different approach in its rhythmic explorations:

Feldmann is also closely tied to Blink-182, and it’s perhaps due to that bond two members of the pop/punk band show up. Mark Hoppus guests on the single “The Lighthouse”:

While drummer Travis Barker turns up on “Obvious Blase”:

This isn’t an “emo record” — that is, it’s not 16 songs of emotion-drenched angsty punk, the calling card of the Used’s early days. Instead, it’s a nuanced collection of songs that branch out in intriguing directions under the polished production sheen of Feldmann.


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