I put off writing this review for awhile. The Used have been a very important band to me for a long time. From the first time I heard their self-titled debut, it just hit me in the right spot. It spoke for everything my teenage mind was feeling but didn’t have the words to express. They followed that with In Love and Death which was arguably even better. After that they spent the better part of the decade releasing subpar music that just wasn’t reaching the heights of their prior material. I didn’t want to taint that further for myself, so I put off listening to The Canyon. But here I am, finally giving it a listen.
The album opens with a beautiful acoustic love ballad, “For You.” Vocalist Bert McCracken’s voice sounds more vulnerable and real than it has since In Love and Death. Something happened in the past few years, but these guys are just totally reinvigorated here. Not just on the emotional rawness of “For You,” but even on the following track “Cold War Telescreen.” There’s an energy present here that’s been missing on the past few albums.
Newer guitarist Justin Shekowksi brings out something in these tracks. I’m not sure what it is, but his playing is definitely provided some long-needed invigoration. His riffs on “Vertigo Cave” seem a little off-the-wall and funky. It’s a lot of fun to hear what he came up with here.
Some of the tracks are a bit odd, considering the band’s backlog. There’s a newfound poppy edge going on here, but it’s not full on sellout like Sleeping With Sirens’ latest album. There are still signs of the punk aggression they’ve always been known for, but it’s just softened. Bert McCracken doesn’t scream anymore, for one thing, and the songs just feel so much softer.
I guess I can’t really say this is a bad album; it didn’t completely turn me off, and there are definitely some great songs here. But given the length of the album, there’s just not enough here to warrant repeated listens. On top of that, older fans of the Used will almost assuredly snub their nose at this. Disregarding that, though, I would recommend giving this album at least one spin if you’ve ever liked the band. It might not do enough for you, but I think it’s an album worth hearing at least once just to see the evolution of this band.
I give The Canyon a 3/5.