The Used, "Artwork"

On The Used's fourth full-length album, "Artwork," the rock band is distancing itself from musical descriptions like "emo" and "screamo." Singer Bert McCracken, who mixes impassioned shrieking with earnest lyrics, rejects these genres and instead offers "gross pop" as another suggestion. Energized by its new direction, the Used pushes boundaries with the frenetic lead single "Blood on My Hands," whose video features McCracken as a gleeful, blood-soaked vigilante. But the song doesn't so much reinvent the band's sound as amplify it. Other tracks like "Sold My Soul" and "The Best of Me" highlight the Used's knack for crafting brutal yet crowd-pleasing anthems. But there are some surprises on "Artwork"-McCracken dials down the screaming and blood lust on the polished, piano-driven "Kissing You Goodbye." This track may not represent the evolution the Used has imagined for itself, but it suggests depth beyond the labels the group hopes to leave behind.

- Album Review