Sound — 7
During their long career (their first self-titled album was released 15 years ago in 2002) The Used has always combined different genres in their own sound. They've mixed the wave of commercial emo with elements of post-hardcore, alternative and even pop-rock with rather intensive synths. For all that long 15 years the question of the genre remained unanswered. Here is what Bert McCracken said about that fact:
"We are just a rock group and that is all what we are"
Their previous record about world's political climate ("Imaginary Enemy"in 2014) was comparably good. Somebody likes it, somebody doesn't — it's the question of personal preferences but if we'll take a closer look on it we'll definitely notice a lack of new ideas and their artistic development. Here on "The Canyon" we deal with the big step forward. The production is a bit complicated but good anyway. The drums, the guitar parts — everything is in it's own right place. The combination of songwriting and musical eccentricity works perfect on that album. You can hear it on "Cold War Telescreen" with broken rhythm and McCracken's fiery delivery as well as on the heartbroken ballad-like "Funeral Post" which starts slowly before turning into a really big sad tune. Everything on "The Canyon" is well-crafted, measured and structured. And that feels amazing.
Lyrics — 7
"The Canyon" starts with the extremely dramatic moment, McCracken's words about his late friend who took his own life in Provo Canyon, where both of them grew up. In some way the album is an ode to him. In his lyrics McCracken talks about his rage towards the system:
Many hooks in me, no more
First I wasn’t the same me
Stuck in a gaze
They put us to bed
The lights in their faces
Oh what a brave new world
The telescreen reloads"
On "The Canyon" we can also hear McCaren's heady thoughts on loss, fear & the meaning of life. It ends up with a beautiful metaphor on "The Mouth of the Canyon":
"Stumbled from cave to the mountain
Left my hangover in the river
Bridal veil that seemed to call
Paved to the upper falls
Where I let go
I just closed my eyes
And let go
Heavy, my bones
Will they carry
This weight from
This ledge where you left me?
Our smoke feeds the breath of the canyon
On my knees, mouth full of cavities"
Pain-fueled and sometimes touching — the lyrical part here is a great statement.
Overall Impression — 8
Fifteen years on — the band still rocks. Instead of going into pop-music territory like a lot of their colleagues The Used showed us real growth both musically and lyrically. As a result we are dealing with a solid and thought-provoking record that sounds like One of The Used future-classics. It's dark, it's energetic and strong. Seventeen songs last nearly an hour and a half but that's going to be a pleasant an hour and a half for your ears.