Utah's the Used sound like a lot of different bands on their self-titled debut album. The sequencing of the disc seems intended to give the early impression that they are a metal band, but as the album goes on the music softens to hard rock and even ballads backed by strings. Similarly, lead singer Bert McCracken starts out howling, but by the third track, "Bulimic," he is affecting a Perry Farrell-like hoarse delivery, and later on he even sings in a nearly normal voice. (Sometimes, as in the seventh track, "A Box Full of Sharp Objects," he alternates approaches between verses and chorus.) The musical development mirrors the lyrics, in which McCracken begins with typical expressions of youthful frustration, culminating in the fifth track, "Poetic Tragedy," written in the third person, which depicts a suicide, but then begins to find satisfaction in romantic attachment to the point on the album's final credited track, "Pieces Mended" (there is also a hidden track long after the end), that he is proposing marriage. (Along the way, he drops the "F" word casually numerous times, but the album does not contain a parental advisory sticker.) So, The Used has a definite progression, musically and lyrically. But it is also all over the map in terms of musical approach. Some of it could be played on MTV beside Creed and Vertical Horizon, some of it recalls the rage of Fuel, and some goes even further into forbidding metal. That range should give Reprise Records, the band's label, plenty to work with, but it may confuse potential fans.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann